By Blaney Pridgen
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Tis the season for sentimental images to come ‘afloating over the cables and Wi-Fi into our heat pumped homes…images of snow and sleigh bells and snowmen and festooned fir trees from our deeply buried memories of Druid’s past. What does all of this snow stuff have to do with our Christmas in the Deep South? Another sentimental image are stores packed with shoppers wrapped to the noses in warm woolens. Covid should have taken care of that but didn’t…yet.
Other images that drift in, but less so, are wayfarers and immigrants. Mary and Joseph were wayfarers to Bethlehem, where Motel 6 did not leave the light on. Later on, they were a little Holy Family of immigrants into Egypt in escape from the drug lords of Herod. Good thing toddler Jesus wasn’t put into a cage by an evil Pharaoh. These biblical images of Christmas often escape us. What does that have to do with our Christmas in the Deep South? Let those who have eyes see.
A portion of my childhood was spent directly on Hwy 301, long before the interstate system. Well before I read Steinbeck’s book, this was a taste of The Grapes of Wrath. My parents always kept a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter ready for the knock at the door. Our house was one of those next door to the church. In later years and another house on church grounds by an immigrant route, I kept a can of gas and a box of baby stuff by the front door. Turnover was rapid, especially around Christmas. These weren’t happy shoppers full of Christmas spirit and no snow lay on the ground. The creche with cows and camels is cute but nothing is warming about shelter under an overpass and the flight of pickers into the rural South. Actually, if it was today, Mary and Joseph slept in their cars, where Jesus was born on the back seat. I don’t know why I must go to these latter Christmas images every year. In some minor ways, here and there, I have done enough for the wayfarer and immigrant in years past to somewhat salve my conscience about the poor and make me feel a little more than a pretend Christian. But it is just a little more. By the way, if we want to know more about the wayfarer and immigrant in the Bible, these words are translated as “sojourner” in the Old Testament. There are a lot of religious concerns and rules about sojourners in the Bible. And I imagine that the Palestinian faces that crowded to Jesus were unwashed by and large. Not so for a cabal of the religious establishment which eventually nailed him as a blasphemer. Honestly, I don’t like to ponder such things at Christmas, but I do, nonetheless.
Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is good news these days. We need to pay attention to the Ghost of Christmas Future. Recently I saw a large group of unmasked men pushing two tables together for their joy-making in a Zaxby’s. Unmasked, mind you. My wife wondered if we should say something to them about their scofflaw and tosspot behavior. I did not. I have respect for natural selection. But, if I had a grim reaper costume, I might have pointed a bony finger in their unmasked faces. Obviously, they care not for their grandparents and 7th grade science. Sometimes I feel like a wayfarerin a strange land.
Finally, tis the season to be jolly. I have seen a commercial for a service that puts together a collection of family photos into a gift book. This is the ideal gift to not be regifted, unless you have a really big family of people who don’t speak to each other, then who would know? Another holiday idea that might make sugar plums dance in your head, is placing photos of family and friends around the room with the tree. Serve the pictures an invisible punch with air cookies. Serve yourself something visible and a large hunk of Claxton Fruitcake. They won’t know the difference. It’s called a Fauci party. Go for it!