Destination: Christmas #25

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 25

Christmas Bells

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Merry Christmas, readers! I hope you’ve had a wonderful day full of gifts and joy, and barring that a fuckton of alcohol!

Today is the last day of this Christmas series. I wasn’t always punctual or even consistent with it, but I enjoyed what I did read and the posts I made. Hopefully some of you followed along and actually read all of the entries in the advent calendar. Even if you didn’t and you’re just joining me now, I’m happy you’re here!

And for a while, today’s poem seemed to be echoing my sentiments of happiness and goodwill. Up until the point where cannons appeared and the narrator lost all hope of peace on Earth. Talk about a bummer, you guys. I was reading, inspired, joyful. Until WHOOMPH, despair. Happily though, that last verse rings loudly and reminds us that

  “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

        The Wrong shall fail,

        The Right prevail,

    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

So, in the end peace and good will shall prevail over the wrong doers. And as a person who is constantly “in the wrong”, in deed and action, I resent this binary peace where only the righteous can get in on the action. The hippie inside me has hope of a peace shared by all in equal measure. It’s an idealistic notion, perhaps even naive, but if there ever was a day for any of those things it’s today.

So, I wish peace on Earth and good-will to you. All of you. Equally.

Have a good one readers!

Destinationg: Christmas #23

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 23

A Nineteen-Fifties Jewish-American Christmas Story

By David Sipress

Wednesday is here, which means the week is almost over and Christmas is fast approaching! I spent two thirds of my day grocery shopping. That’s what Christmas means to me now, supermarkets. On the bright side, I ran into some people I hadn’t seen in years and seeing them just refreshed my soul. Does that ever happen to you? You run into someone and the feelings you get are so warm, so all-encompassing that it gives you energizes you for the day ahead.

I think this selection is probably my favorite one. Because it’s about stories. About a memory captured in time. Most importantly though, it’s about a moment no one realized would be remembered and shared with as many people as it has. There are so many moments like that, here and gone bits of time. Our entire lives in specks of dust that float around for eternity. Fingerprints that remain long after we’re gone from a place.

The beauty of this story is not in its humor or in its mixture of Holidays, it’s in keeping alive this particular stretch of time that would’ve otherwise fallen into the cracks of our memory. Forgotten before it even had time to fade. Just think back to all the funny, sad, weird moments that weren’t life altering, but still sparkled with emotions. Time that melts together like the wax of so many candles, so that when we look back we just remembered we laughed and cried and felt surprised. Although you can’t remember exactly what was said.

We live and shine so brightly in those in betweens. In the moments when we’re not looking. When no one is. Those not here or there in betweens that make up and break up our days. So many ideas and walks and loves and jokes that were held and then let go. Because we had to, it makes no sense living in see through memories.

But this story, this one moment, has been preserved. It’s become it’s own being now. Shared with thousands of people, thought about, shared some more.

And it gives me hope. And it makes me happy. To think that all these trivial moments might one day become something. That life might mean something more than what we think. To us and to everyone else.

Here’s to a life lived in the in betweens. Cheers.

Destination: Christmas #21

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 21

The Three Kings

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hello again, readers!

It’s been a mildly productive day. Although, if I’m honest, the most shocking part of it was eating a Mac N’ Cheese Hamburger. That happened. Words cannot describe the awesome, so I won’t even insult you with paltry descriptions of what transpired. Aside from that I got paid, which is also a pleasant surprise seeing as I was meant to get my check a little under a week ago. So, you know, shit happened today you guys.

Today’s selection is all about the Three Wise Men who visited Jesus on the day of his birth. Led by the North star, the three kings brought gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. Sometimes I’m surprised when people don’t know this story. Being Puerto Rican, it’s something you learn when you’re very little regardless of whether you’re religious or not. As the world celebrates Christmas, many countries, including Puerto Rico, celebrate the Three Kings’ Day, where children everywhere await the arrival of these Wise men who leave a trail of gifts in their wake.

I remember being a kid and pilfering shoeboxes, so I could fill them with grass. Just as you’d leave cookies and milk for Santa, you leave a box full of grass and a bowl of water fro the Wise men’s camels. Families here in the Island celebrate both Christmas and the Three Kings’ Day, making the Holiday season something to truly look forward to. Especially when you consider the fact that we start our celebrations with Thanksgiving and they end somewhere around the second week of January with a massive street festival that lasts three days. Definitely worth looking forward to.

Although it’s a simple retelling of this age old story, the poem brings to mind all the traditions I’ve grown up with as a Puerto Rican. The things we do here that you don’t find anywhere else. It reminds me that no matter what happens or where I go, this beautiful Island will always call me back like the beating of a very persistent heart. Because, even though shit gets crazy here and there are times when I feel like I’m ready to burst from wanting to leave, I love these traditions. Nothing feels like Christmas in Puerto Rico. And that’s just the way I like it.

Have a good one readers, wherever you are!

Destination: Christmas #17

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 17

Who named these guys wise men? by Dave Barry

Good evening everyone!

My apologies for skipping out on last night’s Christmas post. As I’d mentioned, my best friend got home yesterday and last night we spent it together. Drinking and playing Jenga because what else do you do when your other half returns to you after a two month long separation? You drink. You play Jenga. You laugh at ridiculous things. You’re giddy. And then you go to sleep because all that laughing takes a toll. So, that.

The article slotted for today is meant to be cute, but falls so far from the mark that you’d think it was on purpose. Something about wise men bringing Christ terrible gifts. About how by now women have bought and wrapped a million gifts and men are still scratching their balls trying to figure out what to do. Chuckle, chuckle, cut men some slack because we’re adorable goofballs. Such is life. Accept it.

What?

That’s insulting to both men and women. Are you telling me that men are incapable of picking out good gifts? Of being thoughtful enough to choose something that the people in their lives will enjoy? And then, are you also, in the same breath, telling women that they have to grin and bear it when their partner puts absolutely no thought into a gift for her after she took the time to choose some he’d love?

Your dick doesn’t excuse you, guy. And it doesn’t excuse the men who think like you. Being thoughtless is not cute or funny, but it does make you a jerk. And it does a disservice to the men who actually do take time out of their lives to take stock of who their partner is and what they would enjoy as a gift. There is no need to cut you some slack, but there is the need to cut you away from the notion that it’s acceptable to generalize men and women into this mass of endearing thoughtlessness and type A nagging OCD.

And while we’re at it, let’s stop shoving women into this 1950’s perfect housewife mold. Your wife or girlfriend or mother or whoever has wrapped a million gifts because you’re a jerk who’s perfectly ok with not helping. But, and bear with me, she might not have done any of that. She might still be looking for the perfect gift a week before Christmas because women were not born with a handy “Shopping guide for everyone” guide. And she’ll wrap it hastily or maybe not at all. She’ll give it to you and you’ll probably love it. Because she’s listened to you going on and on about all the things that you feel passionate about. But you also might not, because women are imperfect too. This is an attempt to make men seem like these trembling, puppy eyes messes that just want to make you happy, but actually it’s just trying to make doing the bare minimum seem cute.

How about you lower your expectations of women and get to know your partner well enough to buy her a decent gift that won’t upset her. Or, you know, just ask her what she’d like, you lazy jerk. I promise it’ll be better than a Weed Whacker.

Rant over.

Destination: Christmas #15

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 15

At Christmas by Edgar A. Guest

It’s Tuesday. I’ve got bread in the oven. I went on a non date yesterday. I’m reading a book that was meant to be nondescript, but is actually captivating. Consider yourself updated.

Today’s text is another rhyming poem. Poems that have obvious rhymes annoy me, they make me feel uninspired like that one kid who always tries to hard. I’ll accept rhymes from Dr. Seuss, but that’s about it. Anyway, this guy is rhyming about how man is his best at Christmas, almost what god intended him to be. His words, not mine. He’s saying man is kinder and more generous when he is filled to bursting with Christmas spirit and joy.

I agree, for the most part. I think man is better when he’s got the spirit of Christmas swirling around in his heart, but he’s better only because of his willingness to have it be so. It’s not feeling the warmth of the season or the desire to share that makes us be better people during the Holidays, it’s opening up ourselves to those feelings. Christmas is a time to be generous and kind, it gives us the freedom to let go of our sarcasm and our cynicism in order to embrace the wonder of the Holidays.

I love Christmas, the decorations, the music, putting up the tree. But I also love the feeling that comes with it, the cool air in the evenings, dim lights shining everywhere. A slight spring in people’s steps as they walk just a little closer. For me Christmas is not about religion or even about the presents (Although, I do love those as well!). For me it’s about that feeling, which swoops in and lands lightly on our heart, warming it for the season to come.

So yes, man is most definitely better during Christmas. But it’s only through his willingness to believe in the feelings of Christmas. It probably sounds naive, but I believe in that feeling. I believe in being enamored by the possibilities of Christmas, seduced by the songs that speak of peace and love. Even if it’s just once a year.

Keep it minty, readers. Pepperminty.

Destination: Christmas #14

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 14

In the bleak midwinter

by Christina Rossetti

It’s round two, everyone! Ready your engines! Or something along those lines. If you haven’t read this morning’s post here’s a link to it. It’s about reading Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and memories.

Today’s text is a poem. Something corny, with rhymes and feelings. So I’m not going to talk about that. Or rather, I’m not going to focus on it. A few hours ago I was talking to someone about the high suicide rates in some countries during winter because of the darkness that engulfs them. That was the first thing that came to my mind when I read the first few lines of this poem. The author depicts a winter that’s all edges softened by Christ being born, shining like a beacon in a lake of despair.

I imagine you’d cling to any sort of light in that darkness. Walking outside like moths drawn to a flame that’s there and gone, almost like it never was. I wonder if people forget what sunlight feels like, whether it comes a point where it feels like darkness is all they’ve ever know and that’s what drives them to suicide. It’s easier to fall deep within yourself when it’s as dark outside as you sometimes feel inside. Without contrast, I suppose every darkness is the same – they all offer plenty of opportunities to lose yourself.

So, let’s cherish the light whether it be real, spiritual, or emotional. Cherish it like it’s what stands between you and an endless winter night. Because it is.   

Have a good one, readers!

Destination: Christmas #12

This Christmas series is brought to you thanks to Book Riot’s Literary Advent Calendar. It’s a combination of poetry, short stories, and essays. I’ll be posting every day, some days twice to keep up with my regular posts. Click the story title for the full text. Now, let’s get this Christmas show on the road!

Day 12

Christmas in India

I hope your Saturday has been full of joy and merryment and cheer and some more joy. Because I love you. I’ve spent today baking up a (faulty) storm. My fruit cake came out too rummy and the dough for my cookies was impossible to work with. However, tomorrow is another day and I will try, try again. Look at me persevering, kindergardeners would be proud.

Today’s selection was really unexpected. Not because the text itself was great, because poetry that rhymes so obviously annoys me. But rather because forces you to think beyond yourself and your own experience of Christmas. It pushes you to imagine Christmas somewhere else, somewhere where it’s not White, but saffron yellow. Christmas for people who don’t have the luxury of fretting over the trivial things that seem monumental during the season. I don’t know about you, but I never sit down to consider the Holidays as an experience outside of myself. And it sounds shallow, but unless it’s a conscious exercise (like now) it’s always a non-issue. Having read the poem now I can’t help but wonder what other Christmas experiences are out there. What food do people make? How is the music different? What does the marriage of religion and culture result in? It’s quite an interesting subject, when you think about it!

Something else that caught my attention was the general tone of the poem. Usually Christmas anythings tend to be about hope, union, happiness, this one is almost the polar opposite of that. It speaks of pain and aching, of hopelessness and forced laughter. It depicts a very practical approach to Christmas, almost like it’s a nuisance. Which is something that I’ve never associated with Christmas. It makes sense though in the context of the poem, right?

I’ll keep contemplating my shallow existence, while you guys go on about your day (or night).

Have a good one, readers!