A week ago, my wife and I held our annual, holiday season gathering. We call it the Sharing, an alternative to the American ritual where manufactured gifts that cost money are given to own. At the Sharing, creative, non-commercial things are, instead, simply shared. This year was standing room only.
The Sharers are family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, brown and white, rich and no-so, retireds and employeds, young and ancient. This year followed that pattern, though every year who does and doesn't attend may vary.
Likewise with what gets shared. We've had a firedancer out on the lawn at night, a fishing pole made from scratch, a graphic presentation of a refinery disaster investigation, and guitar performances. Also, of course, special dishes and drinks prepared and explained by their chef.
The 2013 menu included chorizo-stuffed crimini mushrooms, veggie mushroom-barley soup, homemade fudge, spiked egg nog, homemade kale chips, bread pudding, roasted eggplant bruschetta, sparkling apple cider, my guac, and magic-mushroom cookies--a partial list. Of all our parties, the Sharing brings out more of the creative and different. And the accompanying stories can be as unique.
I've considered recording or Skyping the event so others can experience this different type of celebration, but am not certain that would detract or embellish the night. Maybe one day, just once, to see. Quién sabe.
Each Sharing is strange, occurring in the midst of the shop-sale-buy list-frenzy when objects and possessions can dominate one's thinking and concerns. Its non-acquisition aspect feels somewhat out-of-season and the non-commercial-goods aspect, ill-fitting. How un-American. It takes time for the participants to sense its intent and goal.
The 2013 invitation had: "In keeping with fewer possessions, dress up in your favorite comfy-olds: flabby sweatshirt, baggy pants, faded muu-muu or whatever." So I got to wear by flabby red sweat shirt and paint-splotched baggy, black sweats. Comfyísimo. A promised muu-muu wasn't able to attend.
A sample of the creative sharing from last week:
Linda brought a years-in-the-making, large retablo she learned to carve. A retired teacher carrying her people's artistic heritage forward.
Doug showed his video tribute to a public defender that he filmed.
Darold & Veronica led a funny, story-building activity.
A teen, Noah, did an orginal, rap performance.
A child hesitatingly sang a song that ended strong.
And there was más.
I usually read a passage from a latest manuscript; this year it would've been from my YA fantasy, Bruisied. Instead, mine was of the YouTube by the puertoriqueño Calle 13 banda, Julian Assange (Wikileaks), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and Palestinian singer Kamilya Jubran.
The internationalist, multilingual work (Spanish, English, Arabic and French) based its lyrics on Twitter followers worldwide expressing their social justice concerns in a live brainstorming session. If you're feeling down about the seeming lack of progress against the anti-progressives, grab a mescal and enjoy it. It might help you believe again in the power of younger people.
Four days before Xmas, I'm tempted to give out a ton of lumps of coal to those who deserve at least that much. You know who they are. But I won't; Santa assured me they will get theirs in this lifetime.
But as an antitoxin to electronic crowd-sourcing and networking liking and selfies, trying a face-to-face, communal Sharing, yours to create. Or enjoy gifting something else unusual. With whoever, of whatever type, and under whatever name. Our species developed however intelligently through direct interaction, speech and performance. Our peoples too survived and progressed as much as we centered around sharing. We still have a little time to revive that. [At the bottom is the (wordy) text of our invitation.]
Below are two seasonal messages La Bloga received. Good news and creative offerings.
Feliz Navidad, y un año mejor,
Great news in Denver:
y de Houston:
An invitation to a Sharing:
You and a guest are invited to a Sharing party
A gift shared, not given or owned. Creative, not commodity.
In the spirit of less stuff, bring a thing to share, created by you or another.
Come enjoy what imaginative gatherers bring:
written, spoken, sung, performed or simply exhibited.
drawn, painted, sewn, photoed, carved or crafted, for show-and-tell.
baked, steamed, brewed, homemade, self-portraited,
recently read or ?? Your choice.
You'll have time to explain the story about yours.
Food, hot mexicano cocoa, Hot Maple Toddy, beer and other liquids.
You may bring a favorite dish or mixture to richen the fare.
In keeping with fewer possessions, wear your fave, comfy-olds:
flabby sweatshirt, baggy pants, faded muu-muu or whatev--.
Drinks & eats followed by the Sharing. First-come, first to share.