Me, I am a masterfully created whirling blend of mongrel on my dad’s side and Native American Cherokee on my mom’s side, and I think of myself as a blended believer. I have worn a Star of David around my neck as well as a cross, and at one time I actually wore both at the same time. If someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, I would smile and say “the same to you.” I dressed up once as priest for a play and had to go to the store in costume, and I was treated like royalty. (I am not a Catholic, either.) My mom was Southern Baptist and my dad—I’m not really sure. In the custody of my mother and an aunt, I attended a Southern Baptist hand-clapping, song-singing service at around the age of 10, but the rapture passed me by. I figured I was too young for rapture. At one point in my life, I fiddled with the idea of becoming a Jesuit, the troublemakers of the Catholic Church, and I have always been drawn to many Eastern religions. Someone once asked Gandhi what he thought of Western Civilization, and he replied, “I think it would be a great idea.”
The first chief of the Cherokees was Drowning-Bear, the adopted father of Col. William H. Thomas. Drowning-Bear was the most prominent chief in the history of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, although his name does not occur in connection with any of the early wars or treaties. This is because he was a “peace chief” and counselor rather than a war leader. He was born in 1761, but because of record-keeping practices, or lack thereof, there is no exact day. If there were, though, and I said “Happy Drowning-Bear Day” to you, would you call PETA on me? And if as a Hindu, I wished you Happy Diwali, how would you respond?
Christmas (it’s Old English spelling is Crīstesmæsse, meaning "Christ's Mass") simply commemorates the birth of someone named Jesus Christ. If you believe as I do, there was this remarkable person named Jesus Christ and his teaching was all good, regardless of whether he was the son of God or the son of Simon and Ruth Allen from Kiryas Joel, New York. Would it be less offensive to anyone if I said “Happy Birthday, Jesus Christ” instead of “Merry Christmas”?
To me the season of Christmas or Hanukkah or Diwali or whatever is truly about peace and happiness. If it makes someone happy as a pig in a mud puddle to say “Happy National Ding-a-Ling Day” (a real day occurring on December 12), and they are peaceful, then who am I to stand in the way of their happiness? So I will say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Drowning-Bear Day, Happy National Ding-a-Ling Day, and any other greeting of peace that makes me happy, and I hope you will do the same.
There’s more on the shores of Rambling Harbor, so please drop in. Use the chimney, if you want.