Greetings on the Winter Solstice 2018…
Solstice is THE holiday for me. A day as “HOLY” as I can easily accept… being quite real. The physical manifestation of whatever genuine magic keeps the world from tilting totally out of control.
A moment in the rhythmic continuity of everything
we can really know marks this seasonal symbolic loss of light & of its return.
All the many other festivities of this season’s cultures begin with this. I could too-easily whisper “amen” & be done with the rest.
But, no, I realize that I can choose better…
Working inside the wider study & understanding I’ve long practiced I appreciate again that I am not always the same curmudgeon who I have sometimes seemed again this year. I do indeed have my moments, teetering on this cusp, of both snarl & smile.
I have been remembering a story which reveals part of the origins of that curmudgeon, from the year of my graduating from college [being summer 1967… 50 & more years ago], when I accepted a job to help set-up the first-ever year-round Christmas Shoppe in Denver’s newly developing Larimer Square.
I was one of a cadre of creatives [read: mostly gay boys] who naturally collected around this project of wrangling Denver’s version of retail rehabilitation by bringing gifts of talent which were essential & also appreciated while being affordable… thus ultimately under-rewarded in the longer term… An economic fable commonly called “gentrification”.
We began in August, as I recall, to unpack hundreds of cartons containing dozens of artificial trees, upon which we carefully strung hundreds of strings of lights & then hung with thousands of ornaments.
For some trees there were obvious “themes” or color scenes to follow with some logic, but others invited the invention at which we could excel when given opportunity to play creatively as a fair-or-not part of the pay package. It was, after all, the summer of love…
The initial Ho-Ho-Ho enthusiasm we brought to work at this new adventure, wearing cut-offs to cope with summer heat in an old historic brick building with no AC, began to drag. Soon enough, the plastic icicles were being hung with matching drips of sweat. The fake snow couldn’t cool anything except one’s sagging ardor. The scent of the holidays became the rank smell of hot glittery paint on cheap wood, hide glue & ageing papier-mâché. What would later seem festive to eager customers had become too early rather icky.
I thus lost most any love of Christmas as it was becoming, even then, to be celebrated & it took some years until I could think of the holidays without remembering that stink… which, at least symbolically, still returns to my nostrils some years.
So, I have done several versions of these holidays backstage, so to speak, in retail since the small-town department store I worked during high school, through the Ma-and-Pa jewelry store so important to me during college… into the useful folly of Christmas-in-July as practiced by my family to avoid the perils of winter travel in the mid-west.
I deserve my status as part time curmudgeon!
The anodyne to what I’ve come to see celebrated mostly as a madness is a profound appreciation this simply magical re-occurrence of a long night of adjustment into proof of sanity. Balance. All has righted itself. Life continues anew.
I can now rather more easily let all the ancillary feasts carry-on as they might & need. I play with them as I will… or not. I know what is real to me.
With Bells… or without even those such trappings…