Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dreaming of a White Christmas

It's half-way through November already, which means the holiday season is almost over. How is that even possible? We're not even in the month of Christmas and already I'm sick of hearing carols being played over the loudspeakers at Wal-Mart. And why the hell am I still shopping at Wal-Mart? I thought I had more of a moral backbone than that. I'll tell you why: because I've only got $1600 to my name and I haven't even put down the security deposit and first month's rent on my new apartment in Pittsburgh yet. I haven't even found my new apartment in Pittsburgh yet. Nor my new job. It's a work in progress.

But I'm getting along alright because the Holiday Spirit is in the air, and nothing makes me happier than some nuts roasting on an open fire, provided they aren't my own. It's not the carols (definitely not the carols), it's not the lights or the decorations--it's just that cozy feeling that starts seeping into my pores around this time of year that makes me want to curl up under a blanket and watch the Wallace and Gromit shorts and family movies from the '90s until I fall asleep. And not even just the Christmas ones--give me Man of the House and Camp Nowhere and I'm good to go, come winter. So despite my impending bankruptcy, my lack of job prospects, and my relatively directionless future, I'm feeling pretty good. It also helps that Jess keeps telling me that everything is going to be okay, and due to her spectacular organizational skills, I pretty much believe everything she says. You don't think I pick out these clothes myself, do you?

But Christmas does not mean all gingerbread hugs and candy-coated kisses. It also means having to see my family. As excited as I am to be moving in January, it couldn't hurt if I were moving a few weeks earlier to just avoid the whole thing. It's not that I hate my family, I just don't exactly... see eye-to-eye with them on a lot of issues. Like the fact that gay people are the scourge of the earth and that divorce is sending the United States by way of the Roman Empire. The problem with my family is that they've lived in the same town, surrounded by the same people all their lives. For generations. My family came to America in the 1680s and settled within twenty miles of where we all now live, except my craaaazy great aunt Mary who moved to Florida in the '60s and never came back. So they don't get out much. By which I mean, most of them have never spoken to a black person.

Which is what has me worried about the looming get-togethers that will begin when we flip the calendar page in a week and a half. In case you haven't heard, we've got a black president on the horizon, and as much as my relatives aren't racists per se, I'm sure they'll have plenty to quip about that. My grandparents just had their 50th anniversary and at the party we had for them on Saturday, my uncle already had a handful of jokes about our President-Elect. "I don't know what everyone's so worried about," he said with a grin, "when was the last time a black guy held onto a job for more than four years?"

I tried my best not to grimace.

Now don't get me wrong, I love a good racist joke as much as the next guy, but that's because I think they are ridiculous exaggerations of complete untruths. Outrageousness is funny, and comedians like Sarah Silverman and Daniel Tosh make good money on pointing out just how outrageous the world can be, poking fun at the stereotypes themselves, not playing into them. I know that my uncle doesn't have a Confederate flag hanging off the back of his truck (not this particular uncle at least), but this is the kind of subtle ignorance that scares me more than full-blown racism does. At least if you see a bunch of guys in hoods tromping through town on horseback, you know whose heads to start knocking in (and yes, I am promoting violence here--they might have the right to free speech which I respect to no end, but I should have the right to teach them why their opinion is wrong with my fists).

I am more scared of the little jokes and jabs than I am of burning crosses. I don't mean to downplay the absolute horror of what people have done to each other throughout the history of our country, I'm just saying that I belive there is a quiet ignorance that smolders far longer and more dangerously than hate can. The people that believe Barack Obama is a Muslim are the ones that scare me; the ones that think he shouldn't be our President because he is are the ones that terrify me. And though I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry about finding holes in my relatives' linens, these are the kinds of people that many of them are. So I'm not looking forward to seeing them and sitting through their jokes about how "It's the White House, isn't it? A-hyuk a-hyuk!"

But Merry Christmas to you all, already. On November 19th.

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