Every Day’s a Holiday (‘Til 2013)
Glenn O'Brien says Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and good-bye world!
Every year, when the holidays roll around, it’s the same old same old. We’re in a rut. Cartoon balloons, Santa buffoons and Yule Log TV. It’s far less festive than the Super Bowl. The ancients knew how to do holidays right. As the longest nights arrived, they threw strings of wild parties fun enough that they thought the Sun would be tempted back, days would get longer and gloom (i.e., seasonal affective disorder) would vanish. They also believed that how the new year begins sets the tone for the whole year.
I’m taking the ancient approach this year. I’m observing more holidays this year, and to the hilt. We need to make our feasts more festive. Start with Thanksgiving. I don’t treat this as turkey-and-football day; I make Thanksgiving a real day of giving thanks. For real. I thank everybody for everything. They tend to laugh, but I’m not kidding. I say thank you, and I mean it. For the feast itself, I’m thinking turducken this year—a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken stuffed with pork sausage. And I’m wearing my Indian moccasins.
I say make Black Friday an official holiday. It’s the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, and so many merchants are counting on a big one to make up for a so-so shopping year. So let’s give everyone not employed in retail or air-traffic control the day off so they can go out and stimulate the economy. If you’re religious, say a little prayer to St. Lucy of Siracusa, the patron saint of retail. Shop on her feast day, December 13th!
Hanukkah (December 8–16, 2012) is the Jewish festival of lights, and the idea of bringing more light into the world is irresist- ible, even to a goy like me. Everybody should do Hanukkah! It’s of real contemporary significance, because the menorah burned for eight days even though there was only enough oil for one day. There is a green, conservationist spirit here somewhere. Let’s give little gifts every night and observe the tradition of fried food. I’m doing an R&B Louis Jordan N’Orleans-style “Saturday Night Fish Fry,” complete with expensive frocks and bobby socks: “You never seen such scufflin’ and shufflin’ till the break of dawn!”
December 10th is Human Rights Day, marking the day the UN adopted the Univer- sal Declaration of Human Rights. Let’s take time out to consider how far we’ve come with marriage rights and privacy rights. Now if we could just give everyone the right to food, shelter and health care. Let’s raise a glass to making that happen. As Benjamin Franklin said: “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.”
December 17th is the beginning of Saturnalia, a festive week for Olympian or pagan religions, culminating with the birthday of the Sun on December 25th. Pretty coincidental, huh? The Romans celebrated the agricultural god Saturn with banqueting and carnival-level festivity. They appointed a Lord of Misrule to chair the drinking party, and everybody had to follow his orders. Like “Take off your shirt” or “Have another glass!” Let’s revive Misrule!
This year’s holiday season is unique, since the Mayan calendar ends on December 21st. Some have interpreted this as an ominous event that might send the earth careening off its axis, wiping out humanity (except maybe John Cusack and Amanda Peet). I prefer the interpretation that this date merely ends one cycle and begins another, a better cycle in which humanity enters into a more harmoni- ous relationship with nature. I’m celebrating with fish tacos, posole and my annual straight-up margaritas. You may be tempted to act as if the world were ending, but I advise paying at least the minimum on your credit cards.
Christmas? Well, as usual, I’ll dress up like Santa, in my red-and-white suit based on the Amanita muscaria mushroom prized by reindeer, and hand out gifts under the Christmas tree, decorated with apples symbolizing the forbidden fruit of the tree of life. I’ll also be looking for kisses in halls decked with holly and the Druid mistletoe.
Americans don’t understand Boxing Day. In Britain, this was Christmas for the “downstairs” people, since they had to serve their masters on Christmas itself. Hence, it is a day of festivity for the workers of the world. It is said that “re-gifting” originated with the box that employers gave the help on this day. Wrong size? Pass it on.
Kwanzaa (December 26–January 1, 2013) was introduced in 1966 by Maulana Karenga as a celebration of heritage and culture for African Americans, and like the other holidays I’ve mentioned, it’s about the return of light. Most people might be partied out by this point, but I’m pulling out my Duke Ellington records. I’m keeping the momen- tum going until New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve is amateur night, my friends. Have fun! I’m staying home, taking as a “cup o’ kindness” some Heidsieck Monopole “Blue Top,” the only champagne served on Titanic, and trying to pick up the ghost of Dick Clark or Guy Lombardo from Times Square on my analog TV set. Happy New Year! BG