Xmas in God's Country
Happy Holidays to everyone, and to my co-religionists, Merry Christmas.
Down here in Central Virginia, it's a relatively peaceful holiday, though the peacock nearly froze last night; the water pump from the spring went out for the second time in a month yesterday (potentially the result of sabotage by a jealous wannabe land owner); and my kid's new dog devoured a ham bone intended for the beanpot.
Also late yesterday afternoon, I was sent on an essential supply run to the one place in the region still open: yes, that pariah of all left-thinking people, Wal-Mart, packed right up until closing time with less-than-prosperous looking folk trying to squeeze five toys for their children into a four-toy budget. It was a good illustration of the tangled morality of "low-road" retailers: which struggling families benefit, and which suffer, and who has the scales to measure it all? I certainly didn't as I struggled to the parking lot loaded down with a small bag of loot and a large bag of guilt, with not an economist in sight to make me feel definitively better or worse.
In any event, despite my strong antipathy to Christmas commercialism and greed, I'm happy with my own haul of presents: Bruce Chilton's Rabbi Paul, Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity, Jessica Stern's Why Religious Militants Kill, Phillip Roth's The Plot Against America, and one CD, Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose, which combines the skills of two of my favorite country and rock 'n' roll talents (the latter, of course, being Jack White). I got yet another book, entitled Enslaved by Ducks, a humorous account of a man's gradual servitude to family pets, but can't find the author's name because the dog's already destroyed the cover and the title page.
I'll continue my posts on political lessons learned in 2004 tomorrow or so, but now it's time to pack up all the wrapping paper I bought from various school fundraisers over the last year and decide whether to assuage my residual Christmas guilt by taking them twenty miles to the county recycling bin.
BTW, in entitling this post with the abbreviation "Xmas," I'm reminded that an earlier version of the right-wing campaign to convince Christians that secular humanist jackboots are about to kick down their doors and smash their Christmas trees occurred during my childhood, when certain religious figures claimed "Xmas" was an effort to take "Christ out of Christmas." It was years before I realized that the "X" was for the Greek letter "Chi," an early Christian abbreviation of "Christ."