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

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

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

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Are you being served?

    These aren't good times for confidence in public servants.

    • Mar 22, 2018
  • Send in the segs

    The state Board of Education last week rejected requests from Camden Fairview, Hope, Lafayette County and Junction City to be exempt from the state law requiring students to be able to freely transfer between school districts.
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • Rich get richer

    Arkansas State University heard from a paid consultant last week about ways to become more efficient — make more money, in other words — and perhaps even serve students better.
    • Mar 8, 2018
  • More »

Most Viewed

  • Living in poverty

    To successfully raise children as a single mother living in poverty in Central Arkansas requires a staggering amount of resilience, a significant amount of support from loved ones and the community, and at least a little bit of luck.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Week That Was

    • The other worrisome one is the one with the email of 'zyklonwolf', which any historically…

    • on April 23, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation