Friday, December 23, 2011

Have a Merry Merry!

      In a sleepy little town, just south of the big city of Salinas, one can drive an up climb and view Tommy Pinkston’s annual light extravaganza.  Tommy’s called me (higher than a Chinese dragon kite) 3 times this season, with minute-by-minute updates of this year’s amped up additions:  A blow-up snowman on the Harley, Rudolf sipping a Heineken, 2 new carolers whose scarves and caps blink in rapid succession.   The progression of his treasured and coveted Christmas display actually looks, as my pal Gilligan would say, like Santa threw up all over his yard.  I say “his yard” but this has been an on-going debate for years.
     You see, Tommy views his yard as a “common area” in the park.  Which means, Tommy doesn’t have to mow it, trim it or clean up his dog's shit.  The maintenance person does all of it because even though he has his lawn chairs on it, his fountains, his tomato planters and now his  “made in China” Xmas display, he doesn’t have to maintain it and never has in the 20 plus years he’s lived in the park because it’s a designated “common area.”

Christmas is a very strange time for me.  Alright.  I said it. 
It’s a time when we over do it on food and more so, we babble a lot about peace, love and friendship … Yet, much of the world continues to go hungry and we use our tax dollars to march to war in far off lands and kill people.  We talk about love and we send Hallmark cards saying so, but we secretly harbor hate in our hearts. 
AND… we are so fucking overwhelmed and busy that we don’t have time to call, write, think about or see our friends for the entire month of December. 

     I’ve heard from a source, who asks to remain anonymous, that Northridge Mall in Salinas is the reincarnate of any plaza square in Mexico, in that, it’s jam-packed this December with men of all ages sitting; crowding together, taking up every damn inch of bench, while the women of all ages, from teenage moms to old abuelitas, push baby strollers and crowd the stores to shop, shop, shop in order to bring gifts of frankincense and myrrh to all their dozens of children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, god daughters, god sons, and neighbors’ families as well.
     If you’ve ever spent a Christmas in Mexico (and I have) you know what I’m
talking about.  The rooftops during the official “bienvenidos” of Jesus are decorated to the nines and some of them are so picturesque they belong in the SF MOMA. 
If you look up, (be careful or you’ll fall flat on your face in a cobblestone hole) you’ll see these enormous manger scenes; complete with 20 ft Marys, 25 ft Josephs all staring down at baby Jesus in the cradles.  There are, of course, camel, sheep, cows and gigantic blow-up wise men, on every rooftop too; all surrounding the infant who is, of course, Caucasian.   
Also included in the mix, standing shoulder to shoulder, hovering and gawking in amazement at the Christ-child, are giant Santas, snowmen, and all the reindeer, including Rudolf.   All are baring gifts.  
It’s a sight to see and quite complex to understand.  Frankly, probably the only way to truly understand it all, is with a couple shots of tequila.   Every goddamn roof is a full paycheck blown at Wal-Mart.
    And here, back at home, bell-ringers gather in front of stores and post offices collecting coin for the indigent as if those in need are only hungry during the month of December.  I have this thought that lives in the corners of my imagination, and every now and then, it raises it’s ugly head:
IMAGINE the Salvation Army bell-ringers in front of every store, 365 days of the year, ringing for coin and for the eradication of poverty…
IMAGINE children visiting our elderly and singing at convalescent homes 12 months of the year…
IMAGINE folks serving meals at all the soup kitchens at least one night of their busy workweek…
IMAGINE each of us singing carols for PEACE, LOVE, JOY and HOPE all the time and imagine those tunes blasting from every car radio, store intercom, IPod all year round…
IMAGINE rich folks giving because it feels good and it’s the right thing to do, rather than an 
end-of-the-year tax write off…
IMAGINE all the money spent each year on lights, trees, ornaments, fancy wrapping paper, expensive gifts, blow-up Santas instead going to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or one’s local SPCA…

WHEW!  That’s an imagination on over-drive!  But it makes sense to me.  Truly, and I know it makes sense to many of you reading.  So let’s do it! And what better time to start than day one of a brand new year! Let’s unite and not only occupy our courthouse steps, but let’s occupy that place of our imaginations that, if we act, can make a difference and that difference is not to recognize any particular religious figure, but rather, that difference has only to do with KINDNESS and LOVE. 

     You know all last week I felt exhausted.  Totally and completely wiped out as a slight headache poked at me from the back of my noggin.  I thought it was the busyness of this strange time, the extra traffic in the Trader Jo’s parking lot, the needing another hour in a day.  Then, a friend, who had been visiting me for several days, asked me what kind of coffee we were drinking.   She liked it and wanted to possibly purchase the blend.  I handed her the bag and in doing so, I just happened to glance down at the label.   Seems, I had been drinking DECAF Major Dickinson’s for well over a week…
Now that sucks.

Have a Merry Merry everyone!  Happy New Year!  May kindness and love occupy the streets of your neighborhood and may it begin with each of us…


  1. I completly agree with you on this one Val. It's been surprisingly refreshing to know that I'll have an Un-Christmas this year. A simple meal with the family, no gifts then play frisbee on the marina greens. The frenzy and forced happiness for a day is exhausting and I'm happy to quietly step out. Maybe I'll be back, who knows? Thank you my friend for putting it into words.
    Have a peaceful weekend with your beautiful Wen.

  2. For Peet's sake, bless your heart...hope you're back on the real 100% octane version of Major Dick's. IMAGINE....oh, that's a lovely word. Yes, we can do the Salvation Army bell-ringers... each of us, ringing our own bells for kindness, justice, love, and week-to-week help for those hungry in our communities... EVERY DAY, not just at Christmas. Though for me, there's something extra-special about celebrating and making fudge and baking cookies and singing carols at Jay's Candlelight Service and sharing a toast for 2012 and all that goes with it. Love from Texas to you and Wen and Diego. As usual, you make me laugh and you make me think and ponder, too, in your uniquely honest way. Thanks!