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Saturday, December 25, 2004

I was glad to read Jean's post today as I was having the same discussion with a friend about what this holiday means. My Buddhist friend who is white and raised Catholic said she wishes she were in Nepal this time of the year. Her two young kids do not seeem to understand that no, Mom and Dad can't afford a $3,000 toy boat and that it is enough to have one gift box under the tree instead of a dozen. To them Christmas is for receiving gifts and who can blame them?
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I noticed that for the first time this year all three major networks had Christmas church services - one featuring the Harlem Boys Choir (whose music I love!), the actual Papal Christmas mass in Rome (and a nun read a prayer in Filipino), and another Protestant church service in another channel. I was channel-surfing between these and Bill Moyer's address to a journalists' conference via Democracy Now TV with Amy Goodman. He is talking about the homogenization of culture via corporate-controlled media...something that Mr. Pulitzer never imagined could happen to journalism.
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When it turned out that we will be by ourselves today, we debated whether to skip cooking and go to the River Rock Casino's prime rib Christmas Buffet. In spite of my animist claims, my conditioned Protestant self shouts loudly: No, you cannot go to a casino on Christmas Day! I told my sister that this is what we were contemplating and she said "why not, go ahead!" and added, "you won't be going to gamble anyway, only to eat" and I said "but why go to a casino if you can't play?" So I am making a pot roast today and we are staying home. We will visit our home-bound neighbor and bring her some of my cranberry orange bread.
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I miss my Mama and her Christmas cooking. I miss Philippine Christmases still. I am better at feeling less homesick after 20 years, thanks to email, texting, phone calls.
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Today, there is a part of me that sympathizes with how non-Christians might feel during this time of the year. My Muslim friend goes along with the gift buying. My Zoroastrian friend went to Oaxaca where she immerses herself in the rich textures of Catholic rituals at Christmastime. I keep looking for windows with Hanukkah candles and there aren't many. My Japanese students are amused by Santa Claus but do not really know how to deal with the Christmas story. I am waiting to be invited to a Kwanzaa celebration but how?
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Well, it is quiet. I light candles. Play soft Christmas music. Open presents. Give thanks for family and friends. Give thanks.





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