Favorite

Merry Xmas, everyone 


It is the time of toys for tots and cookie recipes. Ned is monitoring the radar for the white stuff.

But it’s not all holly and ivy and Xboxes.

Some Christmas-observing Christians actually get in the Biblical spirit. They give to charities instead of themselves. And there are the op-ed spoilsports, like Adam Cohen in last Sunday’s New York Times, who noted that Christmas as a shopping season was, until recent times, something devout Christians opposed as a pagan ritual.

Christmas isn’t just commercialized, it’s politicized. Conservative Christians take a breather from gay-bashing to bash those who say “Happy Holidays” or, worse, don’t observe Christ’s b-day at all. A good Christian family marched in protest in front of an Arkansas Wal-Mart because the chain’s advertising failed to say “Merry Christmas.” A Fox News shouter is peddling a book on the “war on Christmas.” Right-wingers are using Samuel Alito’s judicial approval of publicly financed religious displays to push confirmation of his nomination to the Supreme Court. Cohen wrote, “What the boycotters are doing is not defending America’s Christmas traditions, but creating a new version of the holiday that fits a political agenda.”

It’s almost scary to witness the ardor with which people impose their religion on others, all the while claiming they are being discriminated against. Normally, I’d be inclined to get mad. Today, I prefer to get memories, those idealized things that we store up from our annual rituals, be they Christmas, Kwanzaa, or the opening of deer season.

Mine is a memory of a middle-class family in a medium-sized South Louisiana city. My first Christmas was a miracle. I toddled into a living room where a pine tree wrapped with strings of multi-colored lights had appeared overnight. There were presents beneath it. For me. Jubileo.

A late-arriving Christmas season was one of many family rituals. Elderly cousins made divinity, our pecan trees and the humidity willing. We were low-watt Methodists (is there any other kind?), but we often joined the throng in heavily Roman Catholic Southwest Louisiana for the spectacle that was Midnight Mass. (I’d love to know how some of the fundamentalist Wal-Mart critics would feel about being in the minority with a clean forehead on Ash Wednesday.) We never failed to deliver a ham and other gifts to the man who fed 11 children on his meager earnings from cutting our yard and others. I don’t remember taking him anything at other times, when those 11 mouths were just as hungry.

I remember a few gifts, none better than my first bike, a fat-tire Rollfast. Mostly my mother produced a standard lineup — new underwear, a book from the remainder bin at Muller’s department store, maybe a new wallet or sweater. The tree would be down before the clock struck Dec. 26. I am not complaining. These are warm memories of a complete, comfortable family, before death had begun calling.

My Christmas cliche is simple — how much more less can be. The seven-year-old me could take a five-dollar bill, alone, down a main street as festive and thronged in memory as Broadway. He’d emerge several blocks later with presents for everyone he loved, not to mention a new Chip Hilton book or a box of chocolate-covered cherries from the Kress store for himself.

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky since — in marriage, children, work, Christmas gifts — and happy. But happier? Not possible.

Happy Holidays y’all. Whenever.




Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • I have attended community meetings about the recent spike in violence in LR, and police…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Heather Wilson, blacks have NOT been prevented from pursuing the skilled trades as a result…

    • on July 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation