Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry ... Christmas!

Like a dusting of confectioner's sugar on a batch of brownies, a small snow decorates the neighborhood this Christmas morning. A tickling, delicate bit of silence.

Merry -- or Happy -- Christmas!

I hate "Happy Holidays!" When it's Christmas, do Christmas. When it's Ramadan, do Ramadan. When it's birthday, do birthday. "Merry" or "Happy" is what counts. Political correctness can go suck an egg.

Lately -- though I wouldn't blame Christmas -- it has come to my attention that a good day generally includes some kind of giving. I mention this cautiously for fear that I will have to sit through a sermon or diatribe on "blessings." Virtue makes my teeth itch, whereas whatever it is I mean by "giving" just kind of lightens the load or gives off some gentle, suffusing light. It's not "good," it just feels good. A smile, a small conversation, vacuuming the floor, laughing with a neighbor ... I don't suppose it qualifies as "giving" in the usual gimme sense, but giving is the best word I can think of. Something happens, the load is lighter, and it is, without emphasis, somehow correct... like snow. Being given or finding the opportunity to give is pretty good, pretty lucky in my book, but if you want a lecture on giving, go to church or read a holy book. It's nice when the load is lighter ... nuff said.

In a gimme sense -- a boy-I-wish-the-Surprise-Fairy-would-visit-my-house sense -- this Christmas finds me wishing for a stove. The old stove's oven doesn't work and so I can no longer cook brownies or roast a chicken. Lately, the cooking has been done on the top of the stove where the burners do work. But at $500-$600, a new stove will have to wait for the scraping together of the bits and scraps of a fixed income. If I were still working, a stove might seem more 'do-able.' As it is, it is less 'do-able.' And I do miss the brownies laced with semi-sweet chocolate morsels and the more general convenience that an oven provides. Compared with others who may lack enough to eat or a pot to piss in, my longing is pretty upscale and out-of-focus ... but that's the nature of the Gimme Fairy.

I can't remember the context or the exact particulars, but there once was a Zen student who complained to his teacher that with all that he had given to the temple, the teacher was pretty ungrateful, not overtly thankful enough. And the teacher upbraided him sharply: "You should be grateful that I have given you the opportunity to give!" he said more or less. In a gimme sense, this is probably off the charts, but in a real sense, I think it is probably on target, a bull's-eye.

A bull's-eye and yet sometimes hitting the bull's-eye is too much and missing the target is preferable. Sometimes sermons and holy books are preferable to ....

Merry and Happy!

Guatemalan Firefighter Hector Chacon, dressed as Santa Claus, stands before rappelling down from the Belize bridge to give toys to children living in the area under the bridge, Guatemala City December 23, 2012. According the Guatemalan firefighters, they have been giving toys to the children living in the neighborhoods under the Belize bridge, a very poor area of the city, dressed as Santa Claus for 15 years. REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

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