[Marxism] Garcia Marquez: "These Sinister Christmas Holidays"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 28 12:32:37 MST 2006


(Taken from Apporea, the Venezuelan website)
=================================================================

GRANMA 
December 28, 2006

These Sinister Christmas Holidays

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ

Nobody remembers God at Christmas. There is such a roar of horns and
fireworks, so many garlands of colorful lights; so many innocent,
slaughtered turkeys; and so much stress from spending beyond our
means in order to look good that one wonders if anyone has any time
to ponder that such madness is to celebrate the birthday of a boy
born 2,000 years ago in a destitute horse stable, a short distance
from where a few thousand years before King David was born.

Nine hundred and fifty-four million Christians believe that this boy
was God reincarnated, but many celebrate his birth as if they don't
really believe it. In addition, there are several millions who have
never believed it but like to party and many others who would be
willing to turn the world upside down so that nobody would believe
it. It would be interesting to find out how many of them also
wholeheartedly believe that the Christmas of today is a revolting
holiday but don't dare say it for a prejudice that is no longer
religious, but social.

The worst of all is the cultural disaster that these perverted
Christmas Holidays are causing in Latin America. Before, when we only
had the customs inherited from Spain, homemade nativity scenes were
the wonder of family imagination. Baby Jesus was bigger than the ox,
the houses nestled in the hills were bigger than the virgin and
nobody paid attention to anachronisms: the landscape of Belen was
adorned with a toy train and a felt duck bigger than a lion that swam
in the living room mirror, or with a traffic cop leading a flock of
sheep on a street corner of Jerusalem. A golden paper star with a
light bulb in the middle was placed above everything with a ray of
yellow silk that would show the Three Kings the road to salvation.
The result was actually ugly but it looked a lot like us, and it was
much better than so many poorly replicated primitive paintings of
Rousseau the customs officer.

The mystification began with the tradition that the toys were not
brought by the Three Kings -as logically takes place in Spain- but
instead by baby Jesus. We children started going to bed earlier so
that the gifts would arrive earlier, and we were happy to listen to
the poetic lies of the adults. Nevertheless, I wasn't more than five
when someone in my house decided that it was time to tell me the
truth. It was a disappointment, not only because I really believed
that it was baby Jesus that brought the toys, but because I would
have liked to have continued believing in it. Besides, based on
purely adult logic, I thought that the other Catholic mysteries were
also made up by parents to entertain their kids, and I was left in
limbo. That was the day -as the Jesuit teachers said in primary
school- that I lost my innocence, since I also discovered that the
storks of Paris didn't bring the children, which is still something I
would like to continue believing so as to think more about love and
less about the pill.

All of this changed in the last 30 years by way of a commercial
operation of global proportions which at the same time is a
devastating cultural assault. Baby Jesus has been dethroned by the
gringo's and British's Santa Claus, which is the same as the French's
Pere Noel of whom we all know too well. It came to us with
everything: the sled pulled by a reindeer and a fir tree stocked full
of toys all under a fantastic snow storm. In reality, that usurper
with a wino's nose is no other than Saint Nick, a saint that I like a
lot because he's the saint of my grandfather the colonel, but he has
nothing to do with Christmas and much less with the tropical
Christmas Eve of Latin America. According to Nordic legend, Saint
Nicolas rebuilt and restored several schools that had been destroyed
by a bear in the snow, and that is why he is called the patron saint
of children. But his party is celebrated on December 6 not the 25th.

The legend was institutionalized in the Germanic provinces of the
North at the end of the 18th Century, along with the tree with toys.
Then, a little more than a hundred years ago, it went from Great
Britain to France. Later it went to the United States and they sent
it to Latin America with a total culture of contraband: artificial
snow, colored lights, stuffed turkey, and those fifteen days of
frenetic consumerism that few of us dare to escape. With all that
said, perhaps the most sinister of these Christmas Holidays of
consuming is the miserable esthetics they bring with them: the
pitiful cards, the strings of little colored light bulbs, the little
glass bells, the wreaths of mistletoe hanging over doorways, those
mentally retarded songs that are Christmas carols translated from
English; and so many other glorious stupidities for which it wasn't
even worth inventing electricity.

All of this occurring at the same time as the most appalling party of
the year. A hellish night in which children can't sleep with a house
full of drunks that open the wrong door looking for a place to
urinate, or chasing after the wife of someone else who perhaps was
lucky enough to have fallen asleep in the living room. It's a lie:
it's not a night of peace and love, but completely the opposite. It's
the only solemn occasion when people don't love each other. The
perfect opportunity to finally take care of those old undesirable
commitments: the invitation to the poor blind person that nobody ever
invites, to cousin Isabel who became a widow 15 years ago, to the
paralytic grandmother whom nobody dares to show. It's happiness by
decree, affection out of pity, the time to give presents because we
receive them, and to cry in public without any explanation. It's
happy hour for the guests to drink everything leftover from last
Christmas: the cream of mint, the chocolate liquor, the banana wine.
It's not strange, as often happens, that a party ends up with shots
fired. It's not strange either that the children -seeing so many
awful things- end up really believing that baby Jesus wasn't born in
Belen, but in the United States.





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