Tag Archives: holiday

Kwanzaa Principles 1-3

I’m late. I wanted to post the seven Kwanzaa principles, aka Nguzo Saba for each day they’re recognized then give my own story, impression or thoughts. Well, Kwanzaa started this past weekend. Shame, I can’t even do an African-American celebration correctly. Blame CPT. So today I’ll post the first three principles and follow up daily with the rest.

– Umoja (Unity) To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
The family huh? I don’t think I’m striving to maintain unity in my family. I’ve pretty much charged that one to the game and put it in the lost cause bin. I just don’t feel that I have the strength to run after grown-ups who can’t get their lives together. I am striving for unity in my own family, however, whenever I start one. Unity in the community… I certainly don’t do as much here as I would like. I always see opportunities to get involved but decide I just don’t have the time. Being new to this particular neighborhood doesn’t help either, as I don’t feel connected enough to really strive for or maintain unity here. Nation… oh boy. Is that ever going to happen? Call me apathetic but I just can’t. That task seems too large. Finally, the race. Omigod. I love Black people so much. I would never want to trade places with anyone. But we’ve got issues that go way before anyone I’ve ever met and will continue on and on. It’s not a failure particular to Black folks… it’s just human nature I suppose. All in all, I suck when it comes to Umoja.

– Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Hard to say, even harder to do. Kujichagulia is definitely on my to-do list. I think this is what I’ve been striving for my whole life… to find out who I really am and what I’m supposed to do. A big part of that is taking initiative and making decisions instead of waiting for someone to tell me who I am. This is sort of why I want to work on a vision board, so I can de-clutter my brain, visualize the things I want and claim them for myself.

– Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
Wow. Um, I don’t know. This is a great principle because we live in a world where individualism is so exalted that people go so far as to forget about one another and credit all of their successes to themselves. We need to practice more collective responsibility and work together. Not going to happen, however. I’m sorry I sound so cynical about all of this but it’s true, right? I think we can work together on a small scale: families, social groups, committees, neighborhoods, etc. But as a society, a culture or a race? Poppycock. Again, that’s not just a Black thing, it’s an American thing or a Capitalist thing or even a Democratic thing. So what can I do to recognize Ujima in my life? I’m going to focus on the smaller groups and make it work there.

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Dear Chinese-Americans,

Thank you for keeping your Americanized Chinese takeout restaurants open AND delivering on Christmas. You have provided many a Christmas dinner for folks like me.

Since it is a holiday, I expect you to put TWO fortune cookies in my bag. I hope that I won’t be disappointed.

Very Truly Yours,

Order #56

And although it’s terribly offensive (apologies), who doesn’t remember this apropos scene from A Christmas Story?


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Missile Toe

Don’t worry. I KNOW it’s Mistletoe. Isn’t that a funny word though? Sounds like an aggravated case of Hammer Toe or an infectious type of Camel Toe.

I’ve never stood underneath some mistletoe and had a kiss. Truthfully, I think that might be a good thing since on TV, folks always end up standing under the mistletoe with someone they’d rather not kiss or their grandma. Besides, the plant is poisonous, causing “acute gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain, and diarrhea along with low pulse.”

Looks like Norse mythology deserves the credit/blame for mistletoe kissing. I found the same story in diff places around the web (about.com, christmas festivals and customs blog). Here’s the about.com version of the myth of Baldur:

Baldur’s mother was the Norse goddess, Frigga. When Baldur was born, Frigga made each and every plant, animal and inanimate object promise not to harm Baldur. But Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant — and the mischievous god of the Norse myths, Loki, took advantage of this oversight. Ever the prankster, Loki tricked one of the other gods into killing Baldur with a spear fashioned from mistletoe. The demise of Baldur, a vegetation deity in the Norse myths, brought winter into the world, although the gods did eventually restore Baldur to life. After which Frigga pronounced the mistletoe sacred, ordering that from now on it should bring love rather than death into the world. Happily complying with Frigga’s wishes, any two people passing under the plant from now on would celebrate Baldur’s resurrection by kissing under the mistletoe.

There are other origin tales too, like the Scandanavian story about mistletoe being the plant of peace. According to wikipedia, “If enemies met by chance beneath it in a forest, they laid down their arms and maintained a truce until the next day.”

Whatever. All I know is we shouldn’t be having all these poisonous plants hanging around our families (and pets!). Mistletoe, holly and poinsettia. Sheesh! Tis the season to be vomitting. Mylanta should totally take advantage of the holiday season to get the scoop on Pepto.

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How do you feel about Kwanzaa?  I have never celebrated Kwanzaa. I don’t think my family knew much about it and frankly, they didn’t care. I learned about it in my after school programs that were run by afrocentric staff. I mean, we did a mini rites of passage thing one summer, so you know they were on their Kwanzaa game.

Clicking around the internet, I see that a lot of people dismiss Kwanzaa as the “Black Christmas” or they hate on it because it was invented. Well, ALL holidays are invented. Shoot, I just watched a documentary on Christmas and saw how monarchies, governments and religious powers all shaped Christmas celebrations to suit particular needs. Jesus wasn’t even born anywhere near Dec. 25th! President’s Day was certainly “invented” so I don’t get trashing Kwanzaa because it was invented.

That Black Christmas thing, well that’s just false. However, I think it ‘s how most people view Kwanzaa and therefore do not take a closer look at what the holiday has to offer.  Continue reading

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Christmas Past

These trying financial times coupled with the holiday season made me wonder how my family was able to make Christmas so good for me as a child. At any given point in time, there was usually only one person in the household with a full-time job. I can barely feed and clothe myself right now on this student budget I’ve got. How in the hell did my grandmother and ‘nem put so many gifts under the tree and food on the table? As a good friend recently said, clearly people were making sacrifices. I guess the baby gotta have a Crimmus!

I lived on the second floor in a duplex apartment so there wasn’t any fireplace. There was barely room for the freakin’ tree. I’ve never had a real Christmas tree in my life. Growing up, we had one of those artificial trees you put together by sticking the color tipped branches into the color coded holes on a stand. Then we’d decorate it in multi-colored lights, bulbs, candy canes and tinsel, complete with a peaceful Black angel at the top. My grandmother would hang up my stocking by tacking it to the wood-paneled wall. Other Christmas touches included a wreath on the door and lights on the balcony.

I knew there was no Santa Claus. I don’t know when I knew, but it was pretty early. No one had to tell me. I was the kind of child who figured things out very quickly by putting things into logical order. Clearly grandma was buying things and hiding them. Besides, that whole Santa story didn’t fit into my life at all. There was no chimney! Right then and there I knew that was a wrap. Oh, and presents would be under the tree days before Christmas. So… what was left for Santa to do?

Before going to bed, I’d slip into my footie pajamas. Oh, let me speak on those footsie jammies for a second. You had to be kinda cautious when putting them on, yo. Don’t get overzealous and think you’re going to zip them up with the quickness! That zipper starts at your ankle and has to travel up your leg and torso to stop at the collar bone. Without the proper care, you are bound to catch some skin in the zipper. OUCH! I learned that lesson a couple of times as a youngin’. Other than footie pajamas, I’d always have a long nightgown with ruffles on the end, sort of like this. I loved those things. You think my sexy would suffer if I brought ’em back today? Continue reading


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Happy Holidays or what?

Happy Holidays! Season’s Greetings! Merry Christmas?

I guess it’s a slow news week because they were rehashing the whole Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas debate on the local news last night. Really? What’s the big deal? According to a poll done by the folks over at Rasmussen Reports, 68% of Americans prefer “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays.” Whereas only 25% favor “Happy Holidays.” You can check out the report to see them break it down by gender, age and even political party if you care.

I don’t really see the big deal. I mean, I’ve been telling people to have a good holiday for the past week or so. I ask people what they’re doing for the holidays, not what they’re doing for Christmas. I don’t think I straight up say “Happy Holidays” and I know for sure I do not say Season’s Greetings unless I’m reading a Hallmark card. I guess it’s because I don’t really feel like it’s Christmas and Christmas is not that big on my mind. It might also be because I can recognize and respect that many people do not celebrate and/or make a big deal out of Christmas. I might as well as about the holiday because I really mean their entire vacation, Christmas and New Year’s. Continue reading


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Turkey Day

1. Nope. No plans. Sitting home by myself. I think throughout the day, as things come to mind, I might add to this post. The very first thing I thought of was how I prefer the canned, jellied cranberry sauce to the “real” stuff. Not very bourgie, I know, but my whole life, I’ve had canned cranberry sauce. On occasion, I’ve had the opportunity to taste someone’s homemade sauce and I just hate it. It’s too chunky, too tart, and where are the damned RINGS? Sorry, but that canned stuff just goes so well when you get a little bit on your fork with some stuffing or potatoes or turkey. Of course you don’t have to let it sit there, straight up looking just like a can. A proper presentation requires the log of sauce to be sliced! Get jazzy, even, and cut it up into little triangles! A friend told me he’d bring me a plate by later. My only request: Do not being me any “real” cranberry sauce!

2. So I’ve been seeing folks’ tweets on Twitter about how they’re getting ready to eat. It’s like nearly 6pm right now! Back when my family used to do Thanksgiving, we’d be eating by 2pm or somebody was going to get shot. My grandma used to go all out. We’d do the traditional Thanksgiving stuff. She’d also make what seemed like a grillion pies. We never got around together and sat at a table. We only had a small kitchen table with two chairs anyway. No dining room at all. Folks would just mill about in the kitchen, making their own plate and then catch a seat wherever they could. It wasn’t bad though, there weren’t a lot of us. Most you’d have would be my grandma, mom, me, aunt, uncle, and give or take a couple of boyfriends/girlfriends of those folks along the way. There was so much food and so little space to set it out, that my grandma would set up the ironing board against a wall in the kitchen and then set pots and platters on top of that. Yep, we’d eat rather early, then sit around and chill. Maybe eat again later. When I got a little older, the early “dinner” was good because it gave me time to go around to my friends’ houses and eat there. Funny, when I was young I could eat Thanksgiving dinner like 4 times. Now, after one go I’m out for the count.

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Columbus Day Alternatives

I was watching Good Day News this morning and Sue Serio was on there talking about what Italian dish she was going to have with her family tonight in honor of Columbus Day. That made me remember that Italian-Americans go banana bonkers over Columbus Day. (Remember, although Christopher Columbus was commissioned by the Spanish Crown to make his voyage, he was an Italian from Genoa) It’s like their St. Patrick’s Day or something. They have parades and apparently go home and make Italian dinners. Being African-American, I know how it is to want to celebrate a piece of your culture and history with holidays and parades and days off from work. The thing is, African Americans, Irish Americans, Caribbean Americans and other ethnicities usually celebrate positive role models instead of one who brought disease, sexual assault and subjugation to indigineous peoples of the Americas.

I’m pretty sure Italian Americans have other folks they can honor. Here are my suggestions to get them started:

  • Marco Polo. He was an explorer who went to China and hooked up with the Mongols. More importantly, there’s a really fun swimming pool game and a song with Bow Wow featuring Soulja Boy named after him!
  • Lorenzo de Tonti. He was an Italian politician who invented a form of life insurance. More importantly, he gave birth to a son who helped establish Detroit, MI. Without him, we’d never have gems like “It’s So Cold in The D.”
  • Sophia Loren. Just because she’s an ol’ fox who kept it thicky thick thick, once saying in reference to her figure, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”
  • Enzo Ferrari. Manufacturer of the universal panty-dropping car, the Ferrari. Keeping the garages of rappers, athletes and Grand Prix racers full and flashy!

No need to thank me, my Italian American friends! Ciao!!

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