It was already dark at five in the afternoon and snow flurries with drifting as I pulled up and parked, the heater keeping the interior of the vehicle warm. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future spoke to me through the irises of my reflection in the rear view mirror. The first ghost took me to my early childhood and I instantly delved into the feelings of innocent joys of veiled ignorance as if I were home again playing as a bright eyed child in section 8 housing which, despite its realities, never lacked an acute feeling of safety and of a home, which our mother tirelessly ensured through an unmatched physical, mental and emotional strength that still amazes me today: the strength of a mother. Looking back at my past, it was easy to see what I had already learned over the years since those Christmases. That child in the reverie of the past knew nothing of history concerning the Christmas religion with all of its misconceptions, pagan traditions and illogical social and spiritual ideologies, nor did that child of the past possess any historical understanding regarding economics, social inequality, or the society that surrounded his snug tattered adobe. I was an ignorant and unlearned child, like so many American children today, dazzled and glamorized by the magical visions of Christmas with its popular and traditional holiday music, and the various special candies, the twinkling lights and decorations, and the brightly gift wrapped presents. I did not understand that for the working class parents, such as my single mother, those presents represented hours of hard labor wasted on useless consumerism, which at that time was also in its youthful stage and growing, which would line a private sector profit margin while providing temporary employment for an unskilled worker. I did not understand the correlation between the winter solstice and the so-called birth of God’s only son, nor the authorless stories of the baby God’s life (more than likely written by affiliates of Saul) that were taught through indoctrination each week of the year, nor did I have any clue concerning all the various testaments that were excluded from church canon after Nicaea. Looking into my reflection at my past, I felt ashamed even though my past could not feel such a feeling in return. Maybe if I thought long and hard enough, I could recall a few of the presents that converted my mother’s labor to another’s private profit. Looking back on the traditions of Christmas, I have long been troubled about the concept of Santa, presents for the children, and the overall ideology of the holiday and religion it encircles. In my opinion, it is unhealthy to teach a child that there is a magical Santa that brings free gifts to good girls and boys….after all, do not all children, whether bad or good, receive gifts unless burdened by extreme poverty, a condition spit upon by extreme consumerism? Do not American working class parents delve into further debt each year to celebrate the religion of consumerism by purchasing meaningless items made abroad that have magically been assembled by raw materials and shipped across tariff exempt nation-state borders for manufacturing, and again shipped to the land of milk and consumer honey through a process made legal through international trade blocs under globalization? Render unto Capitalism what is Capitalism because to make capital one must first possess capital, and the working class man only possesses one capital wielding commodity: labor. Render under consumerism what is consumerism, but it boils down to needs and wants, supply and demand. No one makes a person engage in frivolous consumerism and engage in excessive debt levels at excessive interest rates. I simply do not think it is a healthy ideological concept to develop American children to expect multiple gifts each year at Christmas from some magical character without understanding how those gifts were purchased, nor understanding labor wages, capital and debt. Ah, but isn’t that the designed problem and the origins of the vicious cycle which makes the foundation for a social and economic caste system? Are there not children in shelters and on the streets of America, and are there not children in the grave this holiday? Are there not those with needles in their arms, incarcerated and engaging in prostitution? On the surface of this magical holiday it once appeared to me during my youth that a beautiful calm would develop over society and a peaceful feeling of humanity would reverberate at this time of year, almost as if there was actually total peace on Earth, but that was not, and is not, the case. Hate and racism still thrive, fear is everywhere, and oppression, crime, drugs, poverty, and the worst forms of immorality can be seen more commonly than decorated pagan trees. I had been mesmerized by Christmas from the earliest phases of youth, and perhaps if I had not once loved this now wretched annual festival…perhaps the later realization through self-education on the true history of Christianity, Saturnalia and Santa, capitalism and globalization, slavery, free labor and hourly wages, and the negative ideological impact of Christmas on American society with its temporary boost to American job creation would not have meant as much to my mind. As the big, hand-me-down, multicolor glass bulbs of long ago Christmas trees faded from my mind, I felt an emotional heaviness in the realization that I could not change the past and would not want to change it if indeed I could, for this magnificent earth and the existence of life is too perfectly designed to be coincidence.
The second ghost sat with me and felt as I felt. We shared the same pride, hopes and fears for our children and we both yearned to be able to protect them from the harsh realities of this world until they were physically and mentally strong enough to fend for themselves, if ever a human position existed. We took pride in the fact that we had told our oldest daughter early on that there was no Santa and that we had labored to buy gifts, and we prepared to soon do the same with our younger daughter, who this Christmas season had begun to take a keen interest in the man with the white beard and red robes (which I believe is also based off some pagan devil), and we would certainly later do the same for our youngest son. We gave thanks to a wife and mother who had given us a beautiful and strong family and was the center of each family member’s life. For her, I gave thanks to the creator. May we live to be old together until the end of our lives, and my I protect her in old age as I protect her in these younger days. She is my strength, and to her my soul belongs. For my oldest daughter, who has made me so proud despite the minor headaches of her messy bedroom and young teenage years, I gave thanks to the creator. If there ever was such a thing as a gift, I pray that she lives a strong life and that evil never touches her, and that she becomes a positive contributor to society and a leader of women and families. At the end of her 13th (12) year on this planet, she knows more about history, religion and economics than I did at the age of twenty and that makes me proud. For my younger daughter, who is the fiery bull of the children, her stubbornness and determination from her mother, I gave thanks to the creator. I see so much of myself in her, and I love her laughter and joy. If there ever was such a thing as a gift, I pray that she lives a strong life of happiness and that evil never touches her, and that she becomes a positive contributor to society and a leader of women and families. In addition, I hope she learns to share with her little brother, as they must be able to rely on each other during this life under such a society, and that she may stand strong as a leader and never allow insecurity or emotions to dominate her thought process. When I look into her little eyes, I can’t help but confess to myself that I would sacrifice life and liberty against anyone physically hurting her. For my youngest son, who has the patience of his mother, I gave thanks to the creator. If there ever was such a thing as a gift, I pray that he lives a long life and will develop into a defender and protector of his mother and sisters and communities, and that he also becomes a positive contributor to society and family. May he become stronger, more intelligent, more dedicated, more educated and better positioned to protect and provide for those around him that I was ever able to accomplish. May he become a stronger and better man than me, a master of emotional and mental discipline, and may he never fall victim to addictions of any sort….for an addiction can destroy a man quickly, while ignorance hinders a man over time. The ghost and I came to the realization that we would accept the Christmas holiday as an annual cultural event, one that we have known for all our years but one that did not change as we had evolved, and that we ewould njoy the time off work with our children with the promise to myself that all three children would one day be learned in history, economics, religion and politics…for as long as I breath I will push them and encourage them to strive in life and to never cease evolution through learning and research. If it can be questioned, it can be researched. With the realization of unemotional and unattached acceptance, we clearly understood without speaking that we would never fall victim to excess debt or frivolous excessiveness for this winter solstice holiday, for what can be made under one government for seven dollar can be sold in a consumer government state for thirty-two dollars (plus interest). It was agreed that we would never let our children engage in the lies of the season, to believe in unhealthy ideological folklore, and that we would always encourage historical resources and discussions on economics and labor when the opportunities arise during the holiday month. Most importantly, we would ensure that our children understood who paid for gifts, and that some years were better economically than others, and what hours of labor and hardships went in to buying gifts. There is no such thing as Santa and the ghost reminded me to inform my children to quickly wake me should they ever wake up to a man other than papa in the house during the middle of the night….and to drop to the floor after doing so because of the high probability that bullets would soon ring out! Before parting with the ghost, we briefly discussed the politics of designed bi-partisan ineffectiveness, foreign and capital lobbyist influence, the liberal left’s bashing of government and also the far right Christian war mongering hatred of anything non-Christian, but the conversation quickly grew stale and we dismissed it in favor of a few old Christmas songs on the radio. In our minds, we thought about Ferguson and the racial and economic polarization of the United States. We thought about the white 19 year old woman that had been burnt alive on the side of the road in Mississippi and wondered why and how someone would do such a thing, and the recent accusations of CIA torturing, but there was no answer….only hundreds of additional news stories of shootings, patricide, matricide, infanticide, rape, suicide and horror stretching over every ethnic community to raise alarm toward the degeneration of a society. What is one day of peace each year compared to the other three hundred and sixty-four? It is really hard to celebrate anything that way.
When the ghost of Christmas future took me forward, questions upon questions rolled out of me in tongues long forgotten, and yet unknown and unspoken, but only silence was heard in response. I tried to hold back the questions before they could form in my mind, but they were pulled out of me with a force that I could no longer control. The feeling that penetrated my mind and chest was a vast, dark grey uncertainty and it enveloped us like a suffocating fog made of heavy cloth. There were no answers to my many questions as yet, because the future was undecided, and whether I would ever know those answers was also a motionless uncertainty. The questions of my children’s future lives, families, careers were constant as we moved through future uncertainty armed with only the knowledge that I had bestowed on them and the lessons that I would instill in them in the future if given the opportunity. With a crumbling moral society, my teachings were equated to swimming upstream in a river of moral filth and self-destruction 1000 television channels wide and internet deep. The ghost remained silent, but I knew that I could not stop moving forward, nor could I give up my efforts for preparing my children because life would no longer hold purpose without my children. The gift I feverishly sought was the elusive gift dancing before me being pulled away by a string that would allow me twenty years of life in which to raise my children to adulthood. What if my daughters married an abusive man and I was not there? What if my son fell under the spell of a woman of immoral character? The vast numbers of scenarios flashed before me with increasingly dizzying speed and were grossly intermingled between negative possibilities and positive hopes overlapping each other. The state under which our children were born also could be seen below and above us as concerns of destabilization, mass national debt (if it is truly a tangible thing) and an economy based on consumerism, and the moral degeneration of a people danced evilly on the rotten foundations built by state forefathers as it began to crumble under the grandchildren of their citizens, and the punishment of God continued to be philosophized: was this a direct result of the human element’s own hand or were the people slaves of a higher manipulating order pulling puppet strings with no concern for individual results? I cried out, “May my children never obsess upon wealth, but develop skills and knowledge to maintain themselves and their families in a safe environment!” How hard it is to contemplate an unknown future for your children when the evils in your own society are so great. How distressing it is to contemplate that future when the future of every minute and major event is uncertain, due to the uncertainty of multiple minor events unraveling to create each of those life altering events! The ghost moved me through vast arenas of hope, to despair, to uncertainty, into sadness, and finally thrust me into a plethora of confusions. I wanted to leave this ghost’s presence and simply return home to look at my wife and children as they are today, to hold them and play with them, and to let the visions and sounds of the present to soak into my mind forever.
I looked in the rear view mirror and emerged from the reverie to my reflection. The ghosts were gone, but they would be back.