It's coming on Christmas (and many other holidays) and we're not just cutting down trees as usual, many have already put up the reindeer, people were going all out with the decorations before Remembrance day, even. WHY?!
Our current way of life, economy, and social system depend on us spending money. So buying things and making displays of those bought-things (ornaments, lights, etc.) is our way of holding up a big beacon of hope for life: the economy and our whole social system will prevail.
But what if that's not the important part of the picture? Most of us know the lights are a twice-removed version of the ancient tradition of bringing back the sun, or of simply carrying the light through the darkest time of year. The decorations often have very deep sentimental value; they remind us of those we love, of those who love us, and of times spent together.
Well that's something we're missing, this year. Time spent together is, for many of us, something like a distant memory. We're weary of living in fear, we're lonely for the friends and family that we haven't hugged (or perhaps even seen) in nearly a year. Many of us have even lost loved ones this year, due to covid or other reasons, and have not been able to hold the traditional ceremonies of grieving that we otherwise might have. Protecting each other from illness has meant denying each other love, in the most basic ways we're accustomed to showing it. We've all lost something huge, and many days have been feeling hopeless. I think we're decorating early (and boldly) as a means of cultivating hope.
In my community, people are finding all kinds of ways of coming together, apart. From the online Remembrance day ceremony to Legion dinners being driven around to isolated people, we're getting creative. Halloween happened without fireworks, this year, and new celebrations were made. More of us saw our own neighbours at our doors, instead of everyone going to the fireworks, and trick-or-treating there. The arts council organized the community making of gigantic snowflakes to fill the walls of the gallery. December craft-sales have gone online as "Buy Local" facebook pages, and other such inventions. Most recent years, Santa has come in to our community by boat, and sat with children in the cove. But due to covid, and the need to protect Santa's health, the wonderful organizers of this event have arranged for him to be drawn around the whole island by parade float, so that every child who wants to see him, can, from the protection of their isolated homes. It's not Christmas-as-usual, but it's happening.
Oh, and it's happening with a WHOLE lot of new pets, because, in our quest for hope, we seem to have all filled our lives with new cats, dogs, chickens, goats and horses (yeah... that's just my family's list...). There are some downsides to this story, of course (puppy mills, irresponsible animal breeders, unprepared pet owners, lack of available vet appointments, etc.), but it's still a beacon of hope; a lightning rod for the love we are all needing to give. We'll get through this little cultural blip of new pet ownership and, again by necessity, we'll all learn a lot more about caregiving, emotional welfare, and love.
We are making a cultural shift, as we necessarily and creatively keep hope alive in our hearts, homes, and communities. It's not quite the end of capitalism that I hoped for last April, but it's change, and it's good, and it's rooted in love. I feel like this is a gigantic scurry of millions of people in a good direction. Happy holidays!