Happy Holidays, if You Can Afford It

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Here it is, December 25, 2023. Christmas has arrived.  When you have lived nearly 68 years, we get a different perspective. For instance, the year I have. maybe for the the second or third time, I’ve mailed out holiday cards. They were secular and humorous, but directly related to Christmas, the way most people view the holiday — secular, but without the blatant materialism that is the true religion of America.

Sure, the Christian — religious — story gets lip service, lots of it, but in reality, what’s most important is what’s waiting  under that glowing decorated tree for family and friends. Then there is the Christmas dinner with the family. Maybe it’s a huge gathering complete with a kids table or two. Maybe it’s a small gathering with just immediate family. Our family consisted of Mom and Dad and eight kids, so it was a large gathering anyway. Then my oldest brother got married and it got even bigger.

Mom and Dad were very religious and they never let the material side of the holiday keep us from the religious side, which was the Holy and Apostolic Roman Catholic Church. Midnight Mass, Christmas Day Mass and then on January 1, the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day. That’s a Holy Day of Obligation too.

If we were lucky, speaking for all the kids that were or are  … strongly urged … to go to Mass and Confession every week along with Mass on every Holy Day of Obligation, if Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on Sundays that was four birds with two masses.

For dinners: usually a ham on Christmas Eve and a turkey on Christmas Day. I’ve switched it up a bit and cook a prime rib roast on Christmas Day and my friend and I enjoy it with a few side dishes and some apple pie.

Dutch apple pie (Tim Forkes)

Call me weird, anti-social or just plain goofy in the head, but I don’t really care for pumpkin pie … or pumpkin lattes, or pumpkin this or that. I just don’t get the pumpkin craze, but who am I to denigrate or argue with, or mock or otherwise look down on the pumpkin-loving populace? This is America, which is, allegedly, all about freedom. So, if the pumpkin lovers of America want their pumpkin lattes, have at it.

Which brings up this political news. Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody filed an amicus brief in a case brought by Penguin Random House, PEN America and a group of authors who have sued Escambia County because of their policy of censoring books in public school libraries. Moody states in the brief, “Ashley Moody public-school libraries are a forum for government, not private, speech,” She added the horrifying opinion, that public school libraries should  “… convey the government’s message.”

Talk about cancel culture. The Republicans — the MAGA Cult — are all about banning everything they don’t like or agree with. They consider themselves to be the party of freedom, but they are all about taking freedoms away from individuals they don’t like, freedom taken from women over their own bodies as well as taking away the freedom of teachers and students to access the literature they want to read.

This was intended to be a festive holiday post. As I’ve done in the past, this post went off on a tangent. But it’s an important one. We have to stop those politicians who espouse fascist ideas like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody.

Some decorations at the the La Jolla VAMC
(Tim Forkes).

We need to crush the GOP, wrest control of our cities, counties, school districts, state legislatures and governor mansions away from the Trump Cult (GOP) and bury that party in such a deep hole it will take decades to recover. That’s what I want for Christmas … or gifts of cash, $200 or more are welcome.

There should only be happy stories on Christmas, but then a large segment of our population in the U.S. would be ignored and forgotten. Men, women and children living on the streets and those leading lives with food insecurities. How the richest nation in the history of human civilization can have — and allow — people to go without homes, health care, and adequate food to survive is beyond me, or maybe it’s what I hinted at earlier in this column. Our national religion is greed with a large dose of cruelty built into it.

I have family members who are somewhat devout Christians, be they Roman Catholic or some other Christian denomination. But I don’t know where they stand on homelessness and those suffering from food insecurity. They all have at least some compassion and most I assume are very compassionate.

Neighborhood lights (Tim Forkes)

That’s different than the so-called religious leaders who espouse the false notion that Jesus Christ was all about accumulating wealth and ignoring the poor, treating the under privileged like trash. We should tax all the churches, synagogues, mosques and temples, especially those mega churches that boast tens of thousands of parishioners that generate hundreds of millions in tax-free profit.

Trying to saves souls my ass. As the Baltimore born Frank Zappa sings in “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” from the album, You Are What You Is:

“Those Jesus Freaks
Well, they’re friendly
The shit they believe
Has got their minds all shut
An’ they don’t even care
When the church takes a cut
Ain’t it bleak when you got so much nothin’”

That’s enough of my anti-religious zeal. I should be spreading happy thoughts, grateful thoughts, engage in my morning routine which includes a meditation that starts with a list of all the people, places and things in my life for which I’m grateful.

For those of you who can, have a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays if you prefer. Enjoy this long holiday weekend and the entire week. If you are able, reach out to the organization that are dedicated to helping the poor and lend a hand or some money — or both. That could make your Christmas merrier and the holidays happier.

No matter what you believe, take care. As the Beatles sang in “The End” on the album Abbey Road, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”

There has to be a P.S. When I first started thinking about this post it was because of the Emerson, Lake & Palmer hit, “I Believe in Father Christmas.” Well, here it is. Enjoy.

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