Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Day...

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!

This is our tree, Bush (apologies: NO pun intended!) A bit unconventional, no? But nice. Our daughter's friend Ed brought it down yesterday, Christmas Eve, made with his own hands. He calls it "The Money Tree". It needs a word of explanation: the tree was created over a period of months, using every piece of junk mail delivered to Ed's mail box since his birthday last April. It's a nicely ironic reconversion of a sadly abused natural resource into an imitation of the nature from which it was plundered by human hand--the hand that destroys, the hand that creates. It's also a poignant reminder of the commercialization of this once-religious festival, and the transformation of an annoying invasion into the privacy of our daily lives into an object of wonderful and, yes, a-musing beauty. We're delighted to have it grace our home, instead of another small, pathetic tree uprooted from its forest home.

I trust you had a rewarding visit from Santa, Bush. Although... did you ever stop to wonder how he got the "Santa" bit? I mean, it's girl saints, generally, who get the Santa honorific: Santa Maria, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara...? No? The guys get a good, strong, healthy "San": San Juan, San Diego, San Antonio...? So what's with this "Santa" Claus? Something vaguely disturbing in that confusion, when you think about it. Could that old bearded guy with his white beard and his ankle-length red robe (!) and his deep-voiced HoHoHo be hiding something imponderable about his (her?) sexual identity? To what murky secrets are we exposing our children, Bush? Now THERE's something your O'Reilly could really sink his teeth into. Anyway, no big deal. Just wondering.

Happy Christmas everyone! And a Merry Hanukkah to all!

1 comment:

dennis said...

Peter, Motoring up the Blue Coast of Turkey on a 'gullet' cruise, we stopped at Mira, a beautiful, rugged place remotely snuggled at the base of mountains beside waters traveled by Greeks and Romans and traders and fishermen since well before Christianity. We went ashore to visit Nicholas Church, the working place of the saint, a simple, unimpressive, unadorned, stone structure surrounded by fallen stones of a Roman ruin. The church stood and the ruins gave it a special atmosphere of things rooted deep in the history which last. It doesn't look like a church and I figured that is because it was an orphanage. Romantically, I imagined Nicholas walking the small corridors of the small structure, doing whatever needed doing to care for his many orphans. It had a sense of being large despite its size, as if some human spirit makes it seem grander than it is. I was especially impressed by the polished smoothness of the large grey stones which made up the floors. They were worn to an almost reflective sheen by feet, thousands of invisible footprints. The edges of the stones did not join tightly, and were worn off by feet until smoothly curved round. It surprised me to think how many feet could do this? How many feet over how many years could round off those stones so much? How many feet of orphans passed before mine? The smooth evidence made me think of the man.
And I thought, there really was a Nicholas, he was a man, and he did good things, especially for children.
And a real story, became a myth, and the myth became a merchandising opportunity in America. And few people get to imagine what Nicholas was in the tiny, rugged area known as Mira.