Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Holiday Season & Life in a Can

Now that it's November, the holiday season is approaching. Yesterday, I was slightly late for a workshop in another building, and walked there briskly. Breathing in and out in the cold air felt familiar and invigorating. It reminded me of walking home from school in a snowfall in the dark. It reminded me of lights in windows, scarves, hats, Loden coats, and winter boots. I talked my boyfriend into taking a walk yesterday night, and we walked down the biggest road close to our apartment, a typically American road with neglected sidewalks, fast food restaurants, and car dealerships. The glittering lights in the dark and cold night made me miss Advent decoration events. I wish there was somewhere I could walk around and decide on a whim to enter this store or that, somewhere where each shop owner has decorated their windows for Christmas and where the city has put up lights. A downtown where you take a walk for pleasure with friends and family. Above all, somewhere you are not allowed to drive. A place meant for people and their senses, not cars. I miss smelling the fine bakeries and cafes. I miss feeling the wind on my face and the snow landing quietly on my hair and my bag and my coat. I miss watching the lights and the people. When you have to get everywhere in a car, because nothing is close by anything else, it's like living in a can. Are you really alive when you're never outside while doing things?

I don't want to take a walk at the mall. One mall is like another is like the next one. I want to take a walk downtown, somewhere that's different from Anywhere, USA. Are you really celebrating anything when all the food comes from cans and boxes and even the trees are pre-decorated? I know there are people who don't do it this way, but the consumerism is everywhere. It drowns out those people who celebrate in a different way. It drowns me out. Perhaps this recent cultural fight about Christmas here in the US is in part due to that people lack Christmas olive trees, using Friedman's framework - they see ideology and politics where others have tradition. No one can sell me Christmas, because no one can sell recordings of the silence of snowfall or can the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven. Above all, no one can sell the energy of a community celebrating together, face to face. Individual people in cars driving past each other isn't a community.

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