“Yes! and the bedpost is my own. The bed and the room are my own. Best and happiest of all, the time was … well, either one day or three hundred and sixty five days! What an abundance – either one the perfect amount of Time!
“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Christmas repeated, scrambling out of the sleigh bed. “O Advent, Polar Bells, Dylan Thomas’ firemen, Clarence and Crachitt be praised for this! I say it on my knees, sweet old Advent, on my knees!”
So fluttered and so glowing with the smell of dropped wax from candlelight services and half-wrapped gifts that would be accepted that way and loved, too, Christmas was surprised to see the tears. O, Blue, O Solstice – thank you for the tears … I feel less hell and more Noel.
“They are not taken down,” cried Christmas. Looking at the trees on lawns, half-lighted menorahs in windows, and the occasional tatty strip mall decoration. “They are not taken down, to wait till … well, the moment the Halloween tombstones are gone. They are here and I am here and all the Thurman-work is not a shadow of the things that will not be, but of things that will be in March and July and even on January 20!”
Christmas was still a bit encumbered by the tree skirt, a stubborn train and a be-ribboned X-Box. All this holiday stuff wasn’t finding the lost, healing the broken, feeding the hungry, releasing the deportees, rebuilding all the nations with peace and heart-music, but, in fact, it would do as a beginning – a foolish and wonderful beginning.
“I don’t know what to do first!” cried Christmas, laughing and crying in the same breath; and not knowing what to do with all the stockings (when had stockings gotten into it? Oh, yes, the need for white stockings at the homeless shelter – that was it.)
“I am as light as a angel feather, I am as happy as a newly-wed gay couple putting that first big turkey in the oven for folks who wouldn’t come to the wedding but, when the cork popped out of their hearts found they just needed to breathe before they could lift a glass. I am as merry as a new green card. I am as giddy as somebody in a church basement with a one month red anodized aluminum chip! Oh, red and green – that’s where that came from!
“A Merry me to everybody!” Christmas laughed.
Really, for a holiday who had been out of practice at joy for many seasons, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The parent of a long, long line of brilliant laughs! “I don’t know what day of the month it is!” said Christmas. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Carols. I don’t know anything.”
Christmas was checked in his transports by the cell phone ringing — when had the ring tone changed to “All I Want for Christmas is You?” Christmas was sure it used to be “I Saw Three Ships” or “I Heard the Bells.” – a sad song that but evocative of the Trump-eting era.
Christmas answered the phone “What’s to-day!”
“To-day!” replied the voice. “Why, it’s Christmas Day.”
“It’s my Day!” said Christmas. “I haven’t missed it.”
“Whoops I’m sorry,” said the voice. “I was mistaken –it’s not Christmas anymore. That’s over and everything’s on sale! It’s now pre-New Years.”
“Oh … said Christmas disappointed. “No, wait – it is my day. It is still Christmas. Do you know the kindness you were planning to do and didn’t get around too, all month, the phone call to your friend who lost her husband, the gratuity to your auto mechanic, the email to the person you recognized at the Longest Night Service, the peace march when it snowed too much, the protest you intended to attend but there was the office party?”
“I should hope I do – every one of them and I can remember the hangover on that last one. A very large one – almost as big as me!”
“An intelligent person – a truly intelligent person!” said Christmas. “Not a turkey at all.”
“Well, really, Christmas, you’ve got a lot of tinsel. Don’t you understand – I didn’t have time, what with doing you, to fit in any of those things.”
“That’s OK. Go and do it now.”
“Excuse me!” exclaimed the person on the phone. “I did Christmas at Christmas – the right presents to the right persons. For that matter I did Thanksgiving at Thanksgiving, and before that I handed out candy at Halloween and went to a party as a scantily clad pirate. I do things in order. And the order now is pre-New Year’s and that means resolutions.”
“Wonderful, wonderful!” said Christmas, “It doesn’t matter what you call it – making a resolution will do nicely. The kindness, the justice, the reconciliation, the encouragement – call it resolution, call it paying it forward, call it karma , call it Lent, if you want – it doesn’t have to be called Christmas to be Christmas. I’ve been holding on too tight to just my little story as if the pageant Mary was more important than the unwed pregnant girl down the street, Joseph’s immigrant family more endangered than Syrians, than Hondurans, the shepherds more greeting card-worthy than fast food workers.”
“What – messing with that story, divided nicely and separated by into lessons and solos and carols — that would be just like calling you X-mas.”
“Call me anything, just love my people. Make a resolution; listen to a speech of Martin Luther King Jr. and do something about it; send a Valentine to the world. Now that I’ve opened up Christmas, it can be in Advent or at Mardi Gras with scantily clad magi, or in August without the Caesar, or all-Hallows with children making posada in trick or treat. It can be anywhere, anytime.”
The chuckle with which Christmas said this, and the chuckle which encouraged not just the one caller but several others, and later when Christmas stood on the porch accosting everyone who went by that tricky little door knocker, was only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled till he cried.
“Viral – it has to go viral – give the angels hashtags instead of harps. We need to — Go tell it on Facebook and Instagram.”
Christmas had not been online long before the first request for an end of the year donation for 350 came in, followed by Earth Ministry, a support request for the Water Protectors of Standing Rock and an emergency fund for Aleppo.
He hit the “chat now.”
“I’m so sorry,” the words scrolled down. “I know you were supposed to be unsubscribed and we had a problem and everyone got another request from us.”
“Not at all!” Christmas texted back. “Have you made all the money you needed to put real pressure on the new Administration.”
“I’m afraid we haven’t …uh Mr/Ms/…Rev? Christmas.”
“Christmas, just Christmas is fine! Well, if you still need money – oh wonder, oh joy, here is my credit card, with the funny little number on the back. I assure you – I don’t have an expiration date.”
“Mr … uh, Christmas is … I don’t know what to say … I am supposed to ask whether this is this a matching gift with an employer?”
“Matching – great idea. I’ll match myself. I have a great many stinginesses to make up.”
“My dear Christmas, are you serious? I don’t know what to say …”
“Don’t say anything, please,” said Christmas. “Are you responding from India. I love India. Also North Dakota – great call centers there. Look, can I give you my credit card again for well, a feast for everyone in the call center? And something special for anyone who’s been treated rudely – even if that is everyone!”
“I will!” keyboarded the keyboarder. And it was clear xe meant to do it.
“Thank you ,” said Christmas. “I am much obliged to you. I thank you megabytes. Bless you!”
Christmas went to churches – it was expected – though they were empty except for strands of hay and candle dribble. Christmas walked about the streets, looking into windows with trees aglow and those with the bluelight of televisions. There were friendly beasts with humans on the other end of their leashes. It was a grand walk, a walk that gave Christmas happiness. Looking at all these homes made Christmas feel, well … stable again.
In the afternoon Christmas turned to the mosque, passing the door a dozen times, but finally making a dash.
“As-Salam-u-Alaikum” said Christmas to the small boy who answered the door.
“”Wa-Alaikumussalam wa-Rahmatullah.” was the courteous but hesitant response.
“May I come in and visit for a while?”
“Yes, uh – wait here.” He ran off to get the Imam and when that worthy arrived, Christmas addressed him.
“I thought I would come and read about me in the third and the nineteenth chapter of the Qu’ran. My Arabic is rusty and I’d love to hear the true and blessed story in those words once again.”
“Why, bless my soul, Christmas. I am surprised.”
“Will you let me in?”
“Let you in? You are already here. Here is your table, here is your chair.”
And so Christmas stayed a while and became a bit more expanded around the middle section, for the food was very good, and the hospitality genuine. Wonderful party, wonderful friendship, wonderful salām, wonderful happiness!
And there were other visits, too. Christmas made quite the run of God’s many children’s houses of faith – each a little different, each a little the same. Christmas slept well and soundly that night, with no troubling carols.
But Christmas was up early at the next morning of Kwanzaa, very early there. If he could only be there on the first, and lay out the principles of Nguzo Saba for it had been a hard, hard year for black people in the United States. Umoja (Unity) was broken by the wave of black lives lost to violent policing and post-election Obama-hatred. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) was challenged by white folks of self-defined good will (rather a lot like undigested turnip) trying very hard to take over everything.
And so on. Christmas planned to light Ujima and Ujamaa, Nia and Kuumba. Economics and creativity needed a raise in pay, purpose and common work a warmer fire in the good new year. And Imani — well, Christmas had faith that some of these things might be hoped and the hopes believed, and once believed, well, everyone could see by the light of Kwanzaa as well as all the other lights (there’s looking at you Diwali!)
And so Christmas said – “A Merry Kwanzaa all these days … and oil, too – we all need more oil, my friends, to re-dedicate the things that each of us find holy, and we need to become the shamash for one another, so Merry Hanukkah as well and New Years’ and Epiphany and so on. A raise for salaries for the things that make life better – equal exchange and local sourcing and less use of fossil fuels. More sass for grass roots efforts.
Oh, Christmas was on a roll. More holidays this year. More holy in the ordinary days, too. More watching, less failing to meet the eyes of others. More hopings and more speakings-out. More joy not once a year but all through it.
And … for the time being … More Christmas keeping Christmas.