By Bob Meadows
Jiminy and Merry Christmas at the family gathering in 1932.
(HENDERSON, NC) The skittish economy has taken its toll on Christmas.
Walter Christmas told The Peoples News that his family’s annual winter barbecue–which became so popular in the 1930s that it lent its name to the celebration of Jesus’ birth–will move to August next year because of the financial strain the December date puts on family members.
“Flights that last week of December are just ridiculously priced,” said Christmas, great-grandson of the holiday founders, Jiminy and Merry Christmas. “And then there were so many other travelers at that time because schools are out. It’s just too hectic.”
The African-American celebration will be more at home in the dog days of summer, says Walter’s cousin, Cissy Christmas, who hosts the annual gathering on her 40-acre plot.
“Great-grandmama and them would’ve wanted us to move it out of that cold weather,” she said. “I’ve been telling Walter that for years.”
The Christmas celebration started 82 years ago when Jiminy and Merry Christmas, two poor sharecroppers, threw a modest party that heralded the day they paid off their debt to the landowner. By the mid-1930s, family members had scattered across the country and talked so much about the annual party that neighbors adopted it.
“Before Jesus’ birthday was called ‘Christmas,’ it was simply called ‘Jesus’ Birthday’ and celebrated in a very simple fashion, if at all,” said Princeton religious professor Cornell West. “Back then, people understood that Easter–when Jesus rose from the dead and thereby saved humankind from eternal damnation–was the really important Christian holiday.”
President Truman approved renaming the national holiday in 1948.
Many of the Christmas family’s traditions have been co-opted into the mass holiday. A 1931 play by the Christmas children spoofed the obese landlord, Nicolas Klaus (who the family privately called Satan). He always wore a red suit when he collected his rent, and would bring along his red-nosed, drunken son, Rudolph, in case there was trouble.
Jiminy and Merry’s oldest daughter, Carol Christmas, also wrote a number of songs the family would sing every year—a tradition now called ‘caroling.’ One of her songs, where she imagined her light-skinned cousin passed as a white man, became a hit song, White Christmas.
“It really gives the song new meaning when you realize it’s an anthem of black power and white oppression,” said Danyel Smith, former editor in chief of Vibe.
Walter Christmas said he’s appalled how society has twisted the facts of the family gathering and Jesus’ birth.
“It’s incredible to me that people who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday get caught up in all this b.s. about giving gifts and Santa and reindeer,” he said. “I mean, I see black people who work hard for their money telling their kids that an obese white man is bringing them all these presents. Priorities are seriously out of place.”
Following the announcement by the Christmas family, Charles Kwanzaa and Ruth Hannukah said their annual family gatherings will merge into Kwanzukah, which will explicitly celebrate Jesus.
Note: This article is satire, brought to you by the creative minds at The Peoples News. Happy Holidays!
© 2011 The Peoples News