At our weekendly breakfast outing I was telling Lici how I'm not so fond of christmas music, or at least not anything written in the last century. Too many of the tunes and carols are tastelessly saccharine. (Abney Park's Dark Christmas album is more to my tastes: Carol of the Bells, etc. (Yes yes, the carol is just under a century old. Thbbt.))
The Wild Colonials have a song which does hold a special place in my heart though. This time of year many folks go about their capitalist extravaganza and familial gatherings with great enthusiasm, but there are many people for whom it is a trying season. Contrary to popular belief suicide is not much more common than at other times of the year. But suicide is not the only metric of well-being. Many people do not have the finances to support Giftmas, especially with the economy as it is. Many cannot afford heat for their homes. Many suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Many do not have families to turn to because they were kicked out for being queer. Many people have lost loved ones and will find empty chairs at their tables this year. Too often the season of charity is victim to the most mindless acts of brutality.
Yesterday I learned that my grandmother had passed away sunday evening. She was 73. At the end of June my younger-elder sister died at 30 years, leaving my 8 year old niece. Last August my cousin died just as young. His fiancee, a nurse, was with him. All of them sudden, all of them unexpected. In a year and a half I've earned the right to say that I have a strong family history of heart attacks.
Try to remember that the season is not about gifts. And it's not about religion either. Things and obligations only feed the void within. The season is about people, about humanity and empathy. It is a reminder to live mindfully, to cherish, to forgive, to remember.