Christmas in Austin
Every year, on the first Saturday in December, Austin has one of it’s infamous ‘happenings.’ We close open our main thoroughfare to become a people’s space: carolers, cafes, open museums, restaurants offering free hot chocolate. Near the capital, a dozen or more local vendors sell their jams and candles and T-shirts so people can buy stocking stuffers from local businesses.
On the Capital Steps themselves, there is a tiny band, and our beloved John Aielli – the winner of the ‘best DJ in Austin” award for many years, and a member of our local NPR affilitate KUT -sings Christmas carrols with the 3 thousand or so people who show up to sing Frosty The Snowman with him, or act out the 12 days of Christmas. That’s right: old and young, white, black, and brown, children dancing with seniors, gay people dancing with straight. We become a whole town celebrating Christmas together.
I’m a buddhist. I know that Christmas is merely a festival of lights, and the teacher Jesus was actually born in April. But I’m happy to sing all of the songs, sharing a song book with my neighbors – an elderly gentleman on my right, and on my left, a young father with his adopted daughter (newly from China) on his shoulders.
Hearwarming. Makes me sad (ok – here is the cranky bit) that there is so much disparity, so many wars, so much violence and adversity in the world, when I strongly believe we can all be singing together. At the end of the day, all people want the same thing: safety, health and success for our children; a warm, dry home with nutritious food; long, healthy life with work that we get properly paid for; loving relationships with our families and friends; an earth and environment that is clean and not toxic. No matter if folks live in jungles or cities, rich or poor, old or young – we’re all just people, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the best we can, seeking no harm and possibly a bit of joy and fun.
Let’s realize that we are all brothers and sisters. Let’s use this holiday time to remember to love each other. Given that we’re celebrating lights, and nominally the birth of Jesus, let’s remember what Jesus said. He said only one thing: Love each other.
Let’s do it.