As we close in on Thanksgiving(or as I refer to it, Turkey Day),
it becomes a time where one can easily drown underneath all of
the over-zealous consumerism, the frantic mood of people, and
the melancholy that does hover around the holidays. For a lot of
us, the time leading into the end of the year can be rough for many
reasons. In fact, part of the reason why I’ve been absent from
posting on the blog has been due to a tense situation with a family
member. I also lost an uncle around this time years ago. I know
that there are similar stories and those that are more wrought with
sorrow out there. But, I want to talk about why I find this time to be
magical and why I’m thankful for it.
I grew up fully embracing the spirit of the holidays on face value.
Thanksgiving with the pilgrims and Indians, turkey and football
and family. Christmas and the preparations in the kitchen, right
down to the making of black cake and sorrel. The best part of that
being able to put a finger in to the bowl and taste the last remnants
of the cake mix, with Mom’s permission of course. I cherish the
memories of the laughter. The times I spent at home in Queens or
up in the Bronx with Pops’ side of the family. There’s always a
soundtrack that goes with these memories. RUN-DMC’s “Christmas
In Hollis”. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You”.
Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas”. The Salsoul Christmas records
Mom spins whenever she cooks. Lord Kitchener’s “Drink A Rum”.
And many more. I zero in on these things because to me, they mean
celebration of all of the parts of my identity with family at the core.
People tend to get hung up on the dumbest things when this time of
year comes around. Some don’t want to say Merry Christmas. Some
don’t want Christmas trees up, or menorahs. Some feel that Muslims,
who don’t celebrate Christmas, should do so or fake it. It’s gotten worse
over the past few years, or maybe it’s just that we have collectively. We
have lost sight of the communal spirit. We’ve ignored history and don’t
take the time to fully educate on why these days exist and offer alternatives or the opportunity to have alternatives if needed or wanted.
The history of both holidays, as sordid and troubled as they are, have
been fully detailed. But I choose to be thankful and not be limited to
doing so because it’s the last two months of the year. That’s why each
year, I make clothing donations. I plan to put together a bag or two with
toiletries and clothes to give to someone on the street, as inspired by the
work of a friend. I give thanks for the ability to give gladly. And I don’t
need the reward of a turkey leg and mac and cheese to spur me into doing
what we all need to be doing more of: spreading love.