24.11.07

Home and the Holidays (Loosely to do with Sidewalks)

I just decided that Thanksgiving is the opposite of Halloween, domestically speaking. Thanksgiving is entirely set within the house, people and holiday-ness filling its dining, living, and cooking rooms. Maybe somewhere in the clement South they have Thanksgiving in yards or parks, but the way I see it everything takes place in doors, on couches, chairs, tables, lit by lamps, warmed by furnaces and fires, protected by panes of glass, shingles, and walls full of insulation. Thanksgiving is nothing more than this celebration of being inside, being part of families, houses, plentiful environmental food chains, and (finally) the Earth's ever-changing atmosphere. Thanksgiving is in, daddy-o.

Halloween, other hand, is out. It's decidedly out. It's so far out, it's gone! It's out there, man, and so are you, wandering the streets of the city, walking all over the place, dressed as not-yourself as you can be. You're not at home, in here... you're out, out the door, out there, somewhere sneaking around, but nobody knows its you! You're so out, you're not even yourself any more. (That's how out you are...) Or maybe its you, this out there far gone delusion of a self that you seem to be, as you wander far from home, like Ulysses or a circus. And what do you see on your travels? Maybe nothing, maybe darkness, but maybe there are wonderful things lurking in the shadows of the evening? You find gourds gone wild, the freedom of fright, and the streets are paved with candy. The whole thing is a celebration of getting lost, and finding yourself, somehow, in the unfamiliar.

Yeah, these two holidays are in and out, you and me, two sides of the same flipping coin. You could map it out...

Halloween------------Thanksgiving
Outside----------------Inside
Street------------------Home
Stranger---------------Family
Unknown--------------Known
Dark-------------------Light
Sweet------------------Savory
Candy------------------Turkey
Absence---------------Presence
Dionysus--------------Apollo
Nomad----------------Farmer


Christmas, on the other other hand, is some sort of out of control synthesis. It strikes me as mostly about consumption, the reification of connections through materialization, materialism, the commodity. Sure we all have some family traditions, but at a broad cultural level Christmas is shopping. We have our list, and we are blessed with the task of coming up with the 'ideal' purchase for each important person in our lives. These items stand in for our connections, emotions, and love. This has little to do with the home, per se, though in a way it might represent the interface between a material landscape and the interior worlds of home and feelings. You bring these things in, from out there, and deposit them in your lives, concrete reminders of the connections between all of us.

Does anyone ever admit to liking the experience of Holiday shopping? It seems like such a part of the process, entering the fancy-doodad shop as the ubiquitous music drones on and on. Really, isn't this a social process, too? Aren't you really saying, "please, let me be a part of this world! I want to inhabit a world where everyone scours the shelves and racks, looking for a part of themsleves." I wonder if this is the lost marketplace, the agora, the bazaar, the town square. Maybe Christmas, too, has a dash of the urbane, like nutmeg on a nog?

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