Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Festive Sharing - old holiday tradition revived

Yesterday my wife and I hosted our annual Festive Sharing, usually held a couple of weeks before Christmas. Here's how the invitation read:

"In the spirit of less stuff, bring a gift to share, not to give away, something you or someone else created--non-manufactured.

"Come experience all the shares, like: A story, poem, song, play, dance or artwork, written, spoken, sung, performed or simply exhibited. Drawn, painted, sewn, photoed, carved or crafted. Baked, steamed, brewed, homemade, self-portraited, recently read, or--your choice. 10-15 min to present your Share.

"Food, hot mexicano cocoa, primo margaritas, beer, sangria and other liquids. Bring a favorite dish or drink to richen the communal meal. Dress code, tribal-informal. Wear your fave, faded, baggy, flabby whatevers. Drinks & eats followed by the Sharing. First-come, first to share."

Our event is a mix of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and others, although our home barely accommodates the couple of dozen guests. It looks like a holiday party. Until the Sharing starts

And a teenaged boy performs his dance. Or a young lady sings.
A guitarist does an original composition.
A writer, her prose.
A man reading his favorite poet.
A self-produced documentary on remote-control airplanes.
A pot of jambalaya, and the story behind it.
A handmade fishing rod.
A fire-dancer out on the lawn.

You can't imagine the variety because there's no limit to what interests people or what they're capable of creating.

For our few hours, there's no worry about buying gifts or getting to the sale or wrapping presents. No one expects you to give any thing, No exchange of purchased presents. You give of yourself, and everyone receives that.

I enjoy the Sharing for its non-consumerist, non-materialistic, non-commercial qualities. It reminds me that once upon a time, our much happier ancestors gathered in forests, around campfires, on grassy plains or in caves, and had fun sharing what they'd made with natural materials and their own hands. Or shared a rock crystal or a bird's colorful egg they'd discovered. Maybe we were more like children then. Open to discovering, exploring, enjoying and definitely sharing that, with little or no stress.

Today we are social animals who've lost our tribe, our largest, safe grouping. We may still have our other circles--our close support group of 5, 15 sympathetic friends, 50 close friends. But the approximate 150 who once constituted our tribe hardly exist anymore. Social media friends in the thousands doesn't fill the void. And we suffer the loneliness, the vulnerability, sense of helplessness and lack of power, things we didn't so much have when we were part of a tribe.

That why there's cholo gangs, community and cultural groups where people regularly meet and engage with large groups. That why there's Ferguson marches. They're attempts not only to protest, but also to reacquire the power of our tribe. When we gather together in one place, we approximate a tribe; attending a rally makes us feel more powerful, less helpless.

Our neighborhood barrios, ghettoes and communities were once our modern-day tribes. Real estate development, eminent domain, gentrification and segregationist dispersal of working class people have eaten away at our communities. Now, in many cases, we don't know our neighbors and wouldn't want to. We can't imagine their being a part of our circle, our tribe.

I believe all the dystopias facing us and our descendants will again provide an enclosed environment where tribes will naturally arise out of dire necessity. As society--the economy, joblessness, debt, climate, deteriorating public services, and institutional violence--gets worse, our social genetics will induce us to gather with those who live nearby, like tribal villages of old, to protect ourselves and survive. And to prosper, for that matter.

I don't expect to report next year that I'm now a member of a thriving tribe. I'm simply doing what I can. What my genetic make-up and mind tell me is true and required. Our Sharing event is a piece of that. Try one for yourself. You don't need published authors, gifted artists, politicians or rich patrons to make yours worthwhile. You simply need to invite whoever comes to mind. And realize that in times past, they were integral to how we survived blizzards and saber-toothed tigers and enemy attacks.

It use to take a village to raise a child. You were one of those children and may need to be again.

Having a great sharing season,
RudyG, a.k.a. Rudy Ch. Garcia, Sharing host and author of fabulist mextasy tales

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