Stopped for gas yesterday, the kind of magnificent, glorious day that makes your heart sing and your body forget its age. 74 degrees, with a few little clouds, the bright sun shining off the newly waxed red convertible, air as fresh as it is anywhere wafting like the smell of jasmine off the blue Atlantic.
The advertising sign
on the gas pump has a picture of bundled up people on a toboggan and
snow. My neighbors have begun to put up fake icicles, fake frost, chrome
caribou and sleds festooned with lights and other reminders that
Christmas, a month away, is really a pastiche of ancient Northern
European winter celebrations. It's jarring, a disturbing denial of
reality as though all the world were northern. It's jarring like wearing
a wool suit and wing tip shoes on the beach.
in the teens up North where I used to live and when I say live I mean
huddle in the dark waiting for Spring, leaving for work in the dark,
returning in the dark, spending hours each week shoveling snow in
subzero temperatures, but you can't have Christmas without archaic
imagery and the more modern but strictly above the 40th parallel
iconography as given to us by such bards as the Coca Cola company,
Montgomery Wards and all the commercial interests that have latched on
to the holiday. The plastic fat men, robed in plastic furs -- the
descendants of a skinny Nikolaos of Myra, will bloom
on manicured green lawns bordered by bougainvillea and hibiscus and not
an iota of irony will spoil the spirit unless the polystyrene saint is
shattered by a falling coconut.
right on schedule, as it seems, it's cold today, probably won't be more
than 70 although with the southern sun it will feel warmer. Wool
wrapped people will wait outside Wal-Mart for the retail rampage to
begin and driving to dinner with my few remaining family members I may
wear one of my old leather jackets and if I can find one, a pair of long
pants. It's Thanksgiving in this formerly Spanish bit of the tropics.
Florida where the flowers still bloom, where oranges and bananas and
lemons ripen behind the house; Florida where the "pilgrims" never came
and the Puritan ventureth not nor did the Europeans ever sit down to
dinner with the natives.
never mind the latitude, it's about the attitude. It's about tradition.
It's about a fictional past from far away and as people do, we'll make
up our own reality even though it's nowhere as good as the one nature
provides and I'll sit indoors eating things I shouldn't instead of
sitting by the pool or at a restaurant by the water listening to steel
drums and being thankful for where and what and who I am.