I hope that like me you have been having such a lovely Christmas, full of friends and people who love you, so that you’ve been unable to spend much time online. If not, I wish you peace, my friend, and a better year ahead. Lord knows that 2013 was awful in so many ways, and I am ready for a new year.
It’s just past midnight here and my friends in Europe are about to wake up to Boxing Day, and I find myself wishing we celebrated that here. I never took “Happy Holidays” as something politically correct, or a phrase for trying to usurp Christmas. Instead, and maybe it’s the way I was raised, I just figured it was a way to include the entirety of the season, from Hanukkah and Christmas to New Years, and even on to Epiphany on the sixth of January. Early on my mother and I, though protestant, decided to celebrate it so we could leave the decorations up longer. Of course that was before the corporate world spread Christmas back to before Thanksgiving and started stringing up lights immediately after Halloween!
But for tonight we’ll forget about the marketing mad men and be a bit old-fashioned. Why not one more Christmas song-Poetry Mash-up. We’ve still got plenty of Christmas–holidays left!
As for the Happy Holiday-Merry Christmas-made-up controversy, I wish people would just happily receive the greetings they do, grateful that someone wishes them peace and happiness. Really, there’s no reason to be a jerk if someone doesn’t use your chosen phrase during the season. It’s a lesson that I have been trying to learn all my life, not about Merry Christmas, about kindness. I mentioned on my Facebook status tonight that on my employment part of my profile it says that I work at “Being a Kind Person.” Never has someone failed so often at a job and kept it.
Below is a video of a song from Spongebob Squarepants that my boys and I have been singing each season the last few years. It’s needed. And then for contrast the same subject is covered in a more serious manner from poet Naomi Shihab Nye in her piece, “Kindness.” It’s not a Christmas poem, but maybe it should be.
I hope your Holidays have been both happy and filled with kindness. May be we all learn to be better practitioners of that vital art.
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Kindness”
from Words Under the Words:
Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995
by Naomi Shihab Nye.
- Christmas Song, Poetry Mash-up #1, Funky Monks (dadpoet.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Song, Poetry Mash-up #2, Gleefully Snow-bound (dadpoet.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Song, Poetry Mash-up #3, Said the Night Wind (dadpoet.wordpress.com)
- Pope’s Christmas wish: Hope for a better world (azfamily.com)