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Archive for the tag “holidays”

Holiday Spirit? Already???

It seems like people are already getting into the holiday spirit.

It’s October 29, by the way.

With all of the Halloween parties going on this past week and celebrities getting in trouble for being offensive, I guess it would make sense for folks to already be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas, because I’m already tired of hearing about Halloween.

And. It’s. October 29.

But last night, after driving home from a lovely dinner with friends, I saw two houses in the same neighborhood with Christmas lights already a twinkling. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” hasn’t even aired yet, and CHRISTMAS LIGHTS?

The funny thing is for the last week, Christmas gift ideas have already crossed my mind for people. When I was in the stores, I saw a few things and said, let me take a pic of this to remind me to go back and get this later. Yesterday, I saw another perfect gift for someone and just snatched it up right away. (For somethings, I have a fear I won’t see it again so I just get it)

I’m a huge fan of the movie “The Best Man” and I’m chomping at the bit for the sequel hitting theaters next month, and a friend has already been sending me music from the soundtrack which contains mostly holiday music.

So it seems like even though it’s October 29, I can’t seem to escape the holidays. They are already here and smacking me in the face.

I was talking on the phone with Renaissance last night, and shared my story about seeing the Christmas lights on houses as soon as last night and we were discussing the holidays. I shared with him my weird obsession with wrapping gifts and how I really, really enjoy it. And then we some how got on the topic of Kwanzaa. I was making jokes about it and I asked him if he celebrated it.

And he seriously said yes.

I was taken aback.

It’s sad to say, but as I told him, I don’t know of any real, life black people who seriously participate in and voluntarily celebrate Kwanzaa, like for real.

I said, a lot of time, people go to church or their local community center to do a half-assed observance, and still not really know what it means or feel a real connection to it, but I don’t know anyone for real who celebrates it and takes it seriously.

I told him, my father would actually threaten us with Kwanzaa. “If yall don’t act right, Christmas is cancelled. We will be celebrating Kwanzaa and yall don’t want me to make you a gift.”

Renaissance had a good laugh off of that. But he said that he really believed in the principles of Kwanzaa and thinks it’s a beautiful thing to celebrate and would probably be even better with a family. So, he has encouraged me to celebrate Kwanzaa with him this year and we will each make one gift for each other. So it really has me thinking, what would I make for this guy? It’s kind of fun, and I don’t think he’s trying to play me and get out of Christmas. (Don’t even do that, sir)

So even in participating this year (even though I feel black Americans should really observe Juneteenth) I thought about Christmas. As we get older, it’s not so much about the stuff. I really try not to be wasteful or get people crap. I try to think of their personalities what they like or things they’ve mentioned they needed or wanted earlier in the year or something reflective of a moment we’ve shared. Or if I just know this item would be perfect. But I do think having fun with your friends and family and challenging one another to do something different, like actually making a gift can make the holidays really special and unexpected and memorable.

One of my favorite holiday songs ever. Soul Holidays by Sounds of Blackness (they give a nod to Kwanzaa in this video too.)

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Killing Me Softly: “The Wiz” Gets Me Everytime

Over the years, “The Wiz” has become one of my favorite movies ever.

There are a million reasons to love it: Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, amazing music and dancing and very cool, yet sophisticated references to black American urban culture.

But the thing that resonates with me most is just Dorothy’s transformation. She was a quiet wallflower, doting on her aunt, uncle and doggie and pretending to be satisfied with her super ordinary life. So much so, the elementary school teacher isn’t even considering a job offer to teach at a high school outside of her Harlem neighborhood.

Eventually, in order to find her way back home from the very strange world of Oz, she’s forced to pull it together to slay evil witches, meet the mighty OZ and help her new friends she’s made a long the way become better, eh, lions, tin men and scarecrows.

I love to watch this movie over the holidays, but I’ve found when I’m going through a tough time or I know I’m in need of a serious change in my life and I end up watching this movie, I’m crying like a baby when Diana starts singing “Home.” Then I need someone to pick me up off of the floor by the end of Lena Horne’s song, “Believe in yourself.”

I feel like Lena’s Glenda the Good Witch was literally willing me to get it together, when she throws in that “whoo” and a “yeah” in there. Tell me you won’t want to change the world after watching this!!!

For some reason, those parts of the movie in particular, hit me like a ton of bricks. There have been times in my life I have been stuck in situations that I didn’t like, but I stayed out of fear of trying and failing even more miserably.

All throughout the movie, over and over, each character had to stand up, be brave and just try something new and step out of their comfort zone. It’s almost like the times I decide to pop that DVD in– on some subconscious level– is when I need to hear those messages the most.

I’m reminded to reconnect to the people who love me so they can recharge me and I need to gather up my confidence again to do something– anything bigger than what I’m doing at the moment. Happy holidays, yall!

BONUS POST: As for Kwanzaa, I’d Rather Celebrate Juneteenth

Earlier today, a good friend hit me up asking if I thought Kwanzaa was wack, because he had just seen this blog post.

I had to chuckle, because since the late 80’s, I can recall going to a lot of well-meaning, half-ass attempts at churches and local community centers to observe this made- up holiday that was supposed to instill pride in black Americans everywhere. Watching people light the candles and try to pronounce the principles of Kwanzaa was torture. Yet, trying to be all conscious and whatnot, we went along with it. I’m still mad at the leather Malcom X hat my mom used to rock…

If you want to spend a few hours trying to understand Kwanzaa please check out the “Official Kwanzaa Website” at your lesiure.

Frankly, I think I understand the meaning of Wu Tang’s 36 Chambers better than I do Kwanzaa, and find it much more exciting. No disrespect.

In my house, my parents used Kwanzaa as a threat if we weren’t acting right for Christmas. “Yall better act right, or else we’ll celebrate Kwanzaa instead of Christmas, and I know you don’t want US to make your presents.”

Some super conscious black folks would balk and say that’s ignorant, and this blog post is ignorant. But hey, once again why do all black Americans have to accept this holiday some brotha made up? That’s just as ignorant.

I have a couple of problems with Kwanzaa.

Mainly its identity crisis. I just can’t co-sign.

1. Why are you competing with Christmas?

First of all, a lot of black people aren’t big fans of winter and the cold (stereotype yes. True, yes). How many of us are in the winter Olympics for real? The timing is wack.

However, I think it was courteous of the creator, Dr. Maulana Karenga
to start Kwanzaa the day after Christmas, not to offend the many black Christians who have already been fighting to keep Christ in Christmas in the first place.

2. Why are you trying to be as long as Hanukkah and have as many candles?

For this reason, I kind of agree with homeboy’s conspiracy theory about just making up a holiday and saying it’s rooted in African tradition… hmm. Africa is huge and made up of so many different nations and individual tribes within nations. Black Americans are mashups of all of them and Europe and everyplace else, we can’t possibly deem anything just “African.” Seriously, you gonna rip off Hanukkah?

3. Why do gifts need to be even involved? (See problems one and two) the super long website explains this.

4. Why do they need to be handmade? Let’s just get rid of the gift thing altogether, you just had Christmas. Dang. The super long website explains this, something about self-reliance, etc.

I actually have a couple of solutions. I do think that the principles of Kwanzaa are valuable and should be upheld and celebrated in the black community.  But let’s face it, today’s black folk prefer their life lessons from T.I. (when he’s not in jail, he kind of makes sense and seems like a cool, and caring dad.) So good luck with that. However, schedule-wise it shouldn’t be squished in between Christmas and New Year’s.

1. Move it to the last day of black history month.

Black people love, appreciate and respect black history month, and non-black people may have a greater appreciation for Kwanzaa too with it not being during the major holiday season. Make it one day. It doesn’t need an entire week, people’s attention spans are terrible.

2. No Gifts

3. Do a major community service event involving the entire community

4. My personal favorite: Abandon Kwanzaa altogether and focus on Juneteenth

Sounds wild right? No, it’s not. Juneteeth (June 19) is the epitome of the African-American experience. It is the celebration of slaves in Galveston, Texas finding out (albeit well after the Emancipation proclamation was signed 2 and a half years later) that black people were indeed free.

Naturally, black people in southern states tend to do a way better job of celebrating this major event in American history formally than in other places.

I attended such a celebration once in Shreveport, Louisiana. There was music, food, a really great time and it felt like a celebration. We really take advantage of and take lightly just how far we’ve come in this nation. I was the first one yelling and screaming when Obama took the oath of office (I was there with thousands of other people of all colors freezing), but how easily we want to forget about this nation’s horrible past.

Juneteenth is a far more brilliant, worthy and personal holiday for black Americans to get on board with than Kwanzaa in my opinion.

Instead of trying to make up rituals that  “Africans” someplace or everyplace may or may not do, during a season that’s already jam-packed with traditions and rituals, let’s stick to something that is REALLY tied to our true ancestors here. The weather is warm (we can barbecue–yes another true stereotype), and there’s actual facts and history right here on American soil tied to it.  It is indeed our own identity as black Americans.

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