And now the holiday season is upon us. In my family's home on Roselawn in Detroit, it was sometime in the 50's and everyone was still alive. We lighted a candle for each of the eight nights of Chanukah. I was a seven-year-old boy whose only dreams were of a Davy Crocket toy rifle or a new bike. The real dreams, the ones that weren't about things, were still to come. One night it was gelt. Silver and gold wrapped chocolate that we devoured as our parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents looked on, proud of the job they had done making the children happy. Learned by their example, inherited from their genes, over the years and through the loss of them all, one by one, we that are left are left still making our children happy, making ourselves proud.
In 1966 I was in High School and we got two weeks off for the holidays. I sat in my room listening to folk music on the local public radio station or playing the music of a strange-named duo, eloquent, piercing, inspiring and personal. Simon and Garfunkel had just released Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. I embraced the poetry and feelings that I thought only I had known. Who were these guys?
In the 1990's the holidays were spent on the beach in South Carolina. Even with the summer people coming back to the island with their families, the beach was still nearly empty. We rode our bikes and drove into town to see the lights at James Island Park. My kids were given Chanukah just the way I had learned it and my little one was in charge of counting the nights, making sure a gift and new candle were part of each of the eight nights. My mother would have been proud. She passed way too soon, but she would have been proud.
How things have changed. I am so far away from those times, those aunts and uncles and parents and cousins and grandparents. I am so far from my kids, in geography and time and regrets. The holiday now is filled not with celebration, or faith, but sports on TV. We no longer have a single home. We have our own homes, with each one of the four of us caught up in the holidays of others, relying instead on phone calls and text messages.
The holidays have changed too. now they are about colored days that refer to special sales of the things that people buy. The ads are draped over our lives, filled with cars in bows and expensive jewelry that generate guilt and insufficiency. How can you love her if you don't buy her this and that? How can I love her? How can I love her? How can I love her?
Someone I didn't know died today. I read about it on The Drudge Report. He was born in 1949, the same year as me. He never made it to this year's holidays, this year's gifts, this year's guilt and this year's sports on TV.
Silence like a cancer grows.