holiday tidbits (radical musings on Xmas)

Uncle Jody, on the phone, to my 5 year old nibbling Siobhan: So, have you been naughty, or nice?

Siobhan: Honestly, a little bit of both.

Word. Welcome to the club, nibbling.

Mairead, eating a chocolate covered strawberry from a gift box: It’s not really that good.

Discarding the strawberry after sucking the chocolate off: I need another one.

Weeping, to no avail: I need it right now!!

Sugar does this to me too, kid.

Finn committed to waking up early to do reconnaissance of the gift spread, picking up the traditional work of the eldest child (me). I feel proud.

I’m not sure if he followed through because I stayed up last night watching A Very Murray Christmas Special (pretty cool) and then Jurassic World while drinking naughty eggnog and wondering what it is (but not wondering enough to look at ingredients because…drank).

Also, Finn said his destiny is to “create a dinosaur park where nature controls nature”.

I grew up as a hardcore magic Santa enthusiast. A few years ago I asked my family not to give me gifts, because…anticapitalism. I totally meant it when I asked, I really did. In my mind.

They still tease me for the forlorn look on my face that morning.

I still look in the mirror each Christmas Eve and sing, ‘Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if you’re ready to live life without the greed.’

I want less and less each year, I’m growing. But this year I needed a red rice cooker, so.

When I was a kid, like 6, one of my parents’ friends dressed up as Santa and came over to surprise us. My commitment to Santa was so deep that even though I recognized this man, I just created a narrative in which I just happened to be friends with Santa, and thus I had to help him maintain his cover the other 364 days of the year.

I miss my dog Sugarfoot at Christmas, even though I’ve spent more time without her than with her now. Her enthusiasm for her gifts was so pure. The last time I saw her was a Christmas, on an island in the south Pacific where she will always be.

Full moon!

I love a well conceived gift. Giving or receiving. I separate that out from monetary consideration, giving gifts of various value with the same glee, receiving my nibblings’ works of art as works of immense value, etc.

I love the convergence of family, even as it exhausts me. It’s true our time left on this earth together is limited, and this time of relative health and presence is precious. Showing up in my wholeness doesn’t mean not getting short with my parents or jumping into business that isn’t mine…it means apologizing faster, getting to gratitude and compassion with more ease, trusting love to hold us. Really, we’re all so tired and so in need of familial attention.

I love anticipation. I love surprises. I love shared joy. I love the kind of magic children can perpertuate and inspire.

I hate competition, commercialism, consumerism, capitalism, and candy overload.

I love living my values in real time. Some years that has meant participating in the holidays with resistance, or sarcasm, letting everyone know I’m better than Christmas.

But I’m not, not yet anyway.

I love the way my family does this holiday – with a sprinkle of the sacred, a touch of tradition, mostly focused on the way we give to each other, weaving a system of caring for each other.

In terms of what being a radical home for the holidays looks like to me this year…I am convinced that authentic relationship, deep transparent love between two or more people that makes each person feel more free, is central to the path to liberation. This is the main practice ground of my family each year. My active question is: can I show up, offer appreciation, care, generosity, spaciousness, wonder and kindness to these people I love? Also, can I relinquish my righteousness, control and judgment?

Mariah Carey’s Christmas album is still some of her best work.

To get through Christmas, I think of my late grandfather’s Jesus, who came from poverty and displacement, whose parents sought asylum at closed doors, who rolled with the meek, washed the feet of sex workers and went on long meditation retreats.

Then I color him in with my historically accurate crayon set, the Boyega chocolate shade.

I speak to him like a time traveling comrade, saying ‘look at #blackxmas!’, saying we haven’t given up on ourselves as a species.

It helps me, feels like idealogical aikido. Christmas is just an energy moving in the world.

I have more thoughts but it’s absolutely time to go play. Love y’all.

sloth and celebration and remembrance

i’m wondering if there is any way to write a blog that touches on both gaza and mariah carey gracefully. i haven’t written in a while, because i have been taking a moment.

i spent most of the last week in a mumu and pajama pants playing abstract chase and surprise games with my nephew, old school nintendo and nerts with my family, EASILY not looking at email, facebook or twitter. this intentional sloth is part of our familial bonding process. watching movies, cooking and saying to each other, “i haven’t gotten dressed in X days!” is our big annual tradition.

this year i took a major step and had my partner join me, for what was her first christmas ever, and our first christmas with outside witnesses. early early on christmas morning i crept downstairs by myself and i felt what i understood to be nostalgia in the truest sense. i was the first one awake, just like when i was a kid. i was always the one to do reconnaissance to see what santa had brought to each of us. i remember being the big sister, the surprise and mystery of it all. i remember our dog for the years she was with us, pulling at the ornaments at the bottom of the tree and a couple of times pulling the whole thing over, which just upset her completely. i remember our first christmas after she died and how i kept looking for her to be under the tree. i remember christmases when we visited extended family and christmases when i didn’t want to…i felt the peace i have towards them all now. i just felt this weight of time, measured by these rituals of giving and anticipating and repeating, laying down the path of shared memory for our family. and now our family is growing in every direction, with new paths being laid down; none of us are children now, my baby sister is pregnant with her second child and the changes are so continuous and fast that there’s barely time to remember, to cherish, to honor the safe and loving place my parents created for us.

over the week, a new line of thinking and writing crystalized, which i want to explore in the coming decade. i can’t quite put it into words here, but it has a lot to do with the art of family as a central building block of community, learning how to be in the tension and familiarity of family, to work through, to find the right levels for that unconditional love when there are very complex and opposing politics and life choices present. i’m giving myself at least 10 years to flesh it out 🙂

i know i have been working too much because i completely missed that mariah carey came out with a new album. she long ago gave up singing the way i most loved – really blaring through her pipes like she had access to some unlimited source of air that didn’t require breathing. but i am still unexplainably pleased by her little soft high sounds, and at the very least should know when she releases an album.

i used to always pride myself on my personal sustainability, my commitment to weekends, hours spent making art and listening to music. i realized on the flight to see my folks that the last time i had spent a day not working was in the hospital…and while there i was wishing i could do work the whole time.

there is so so much work to do. not because of the places i work, which are a lot but manageable…but because of the world in which we live. there is not enough time in the day to do the work of justice, locally, internationally. i don’t even try to hold it all in my heart at one time, i don’t think humans are actually capable of maintaining both sanity AND awareness of our total suffering at the same time. but there are political moments that arise that need response – fighting, grieving, educating.

last year, right after christmas, israel launched an attack on gaza. this year, i am returning from vacation to reminders that we must remember this atrocity, which continues, as the oppression and violence against palestinian people is a daily practice by the israeli government, financially backed by the u.s. my friend angel is in cairo, in part of an effort to get medical supplies to gaza. i’m leaving now to attend a solidarity event here in detroit, and in 2010 will be working with the u.s. academic and cultural boycott of israel throughout the year, with events at the allied media conference and the us social forum to continuously escalate the pressure on the u.s. to withdraw financial and military support to the vicious government of israel.