A Hell of a Time

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece that CounterPunch was gracious enough to publish, Death to Santa, that contained more than a little bilious ranting about the annual shop til you drop and droop, over spending, belly extending feeding  frenzy some folks like to call  ”Christmas “.  A lot of people liked it and emailed me as much, though some folks didn’t, expressing their distress that I had somehow sullied that one time of the year, (that one time, mind you) that seems to offer people an opportunity to dig deep and bring forth what’s left of their humanity and let their little light shine, if I may indulge a bit of Christian parlance.

One long time friend familiar with things I’ve written over the years remarked to me that she liked it better when I wrote from the heart rather than from the spleen. “Can’t I do both?” I asked. “I don’t know, can you?“ she replied. I’ve had a couple of years to ponder her question and am happy to report that the answer is, of course, sure I can. In fact, I think I can do both simultaneously. A case in point.

As a kid I learned about Christmas mostly from women ( my mother and aunt among them) many of them aged, who taught Sunday School once a week in the basement of a small, cut limestone Methodist Church situated in a  barely-even-a-little- town nestled among the bluffs of rural southeastern Minnesota. They taught me songs like This Little Light of Mine, Jesus Loves the Little Children and Silent Night, among others. They taught me that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, that the meek shall inherit the earth someday, that the merciful are blessed, as are the peacemakers, who shall be called children of God. They taught from the heart and mine grew as a result, maybe even three sizes larger, though I don’t remember any of them ever mentioning the Grinch.

And while the broader trappings and nonsensical demands of adhering to the Christian faith would ultimately drive me from regular attendance at any church, or from any self identification as a Christian in any establishment sense, I never forgot those women or the things they taught me, or the section of the Bible they mostly taught from.  To this very day my favorite scene from Bible I had as a kid is the one of Jesus driving the money changers from the Temple with a whip in his raised right hand. I mean, what self respecting leftist wouldn’t like to whip a banker or two, for Christ’s sake?

But I don’t see any of the teachings of my youth in the contemporary American celebration of the birth of Christ.  I see a handful of nativity scenes lit up on lawns here and there. I hear Silent Night blaring at maximum volume over speakers installed on down town light poles near the shopping area. I read the occasional op-ed written by the local United Church of Christ Pastor making her best effort to remind people of the term “Prince of Peace”.  But I don’t see a whole lot of that at Christmas.

I see people throwing punches at Walmart. I read about the statistics of how the suicidal ideation rates spike over the holidays. I don’t see many peacemakers out there either. I see arms manufacturers, weapons of death makers, and the politicians who campaign with pledges to keep those death machine making jobs in their state.   I don’t see much in the way of mercy anywhere either,  I see the absence of mercy. And I sure as hell don’t see anybody whipping bankers. I see bankers whipping us.

So when I write that Santa Claus must die I’m not trying to ruin Christmas, I’m trying to save it. I feel like it owe it to those mostly grey haired old women, most of them now deceased, who took the time to patiently teach rowdy little kids, in the basement of that little,  cut limestone Methodist church, that the heart matters. It really does.

So here’s one from mostly the heart, with just the right amount of spleen thrown in for spice. Merry Christmas, everyone. Have your selves a hell of a time.

Steve Carlson is a semi-retired community/union/political organizer, social worker, educator, and the former Wisconsin state volunteer coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. He can be reached at carlsonbbv@gmail.com.







More articles by:
December 09, 2019
Jefferson Morley
Trump’s Hand-Picked Prosecutor John Durham Cleared the CIA Once, Will He Again?
Kirkpatrick Sale
Political Collapse: The Center Cannot Hold
Ishmael Reed
Bloomberg Condoned Sexual Assault by NYPD 
W. T. Whitney
Hitting at Cuban Doctors and at Human Solidarity
Louisa Willcox
The Grizzly Cost of Coexistence
Thomas Knapp
Meet Virgil Griffith: America’s Newest Political Prisoner
John Feffer
How the New Right Went Global — and How to Stop It
Ralph Nader
Why Not Also Go With “The Kitchen Table” Impeachable Offenses for Removal?
M. K. Bhadrakumar
Sri Lanka Continues Its Delicate Dance With India
Robert Fisk
Meet the Controversial Actor and Businessman Standing Up Against Egypt’s el-Sisi
Dahr Jamail
Savoring What Remains: Dealing With Climate PTSD
George Wuerthner
Bison Slaughter in Yellowstone…Again
Scott Tucker
Premature Democratic Socialists: Reasons for Hope and Change
Julian Rose
Polish Minister of Health Proposes Carcinogenic 5G Emission Levels as National Norm
Dean Baker
Coal and the Regions Left Behind
Robert Koehler
Envisioning a United World
Weekend Edition
December 06, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Eat an Impeachment
Matthew Hoh
Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War
Jefferson Morley
Why the Douma Chemical Attack Wasn’t a ‘Managed Massacre’
Andrew Levine
Whatever Happened to the Obama Coalition?
Paul Street
The Dismal Dollar Dems and the Subversion of Democracy
Dave Lindorff
Conviction and Removal Aren’t the Issue; It’s Impeachment of Trump That is Essential
Ron Jacobs
Law Seminar in the Hearing Room: Impeachment Day Six
Linda Pentz Gunter
Why Do We Punish the Peacemakers?
Louis Proyect
Michael Bloomberg and Me
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Hits a Grim Threshold
Joseph Natoli
What We Must Do
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Global Poison Spring
Robert Fantina
Is Kashmir India’s Palestine?
Charles McKelvey
A Theory of Truth From the South
Walden Bello
How the Battle of Seattle Made the Truth About Globalization True
Evan Jones
BNP Before a French Court
Norman Solomon
Kerry’s Endorsement of Biden Fits: Two Deceptive Supporters of the Iraq War
Torsten Bewernitz – Gabriel Kuhn
Syndicalism for the Twenty-First Century: From Unionism to Class-Struggle Militancy
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: From Banja Luka to Sarajevo
Thomas Knapp
NATO is a Brain Dead, Obsolete, Rabid Dog. Euthanize It.
Forrest Hylton
Bolivia’s Coup Government: a Far-Right Horror Show
M. G. Piety
A Lesson From the Danes on Immigration
Ellen Isaacs
The Audacity of Hypocrisy
Monika Zgustova
Chernobyl, Lies and Messianism in Russia
Manuel García, Jr.
From Caesar’s Last Breath to Ours
Binoy Kampmark
Going to the ICJ: Myanmar, Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble
Jill Richardson
Marijuana and the Myth of the “Gateway Drug”
Muzamil Bhat
Srinagar’s Shikaras: Still Waters Run Deep Losses
Gaither Stewart
War and Betrayal: Change and Transformation