The economy is in the toilet. We know that. Many of us also believe that there will be no "saving" of the economy until it is destroyed. Those of us who are old enough to remember the war in Vietnam -- or who have taken the time to learn anything about it -- know that "destroying the village to save it" is just one of many sad artifacts of that disaster.
What's different about the current sentiment, however, is that we who somewhat impatiently await the collapse of the economy know that there is no way to save it in its current incarnation. It must be destroyed, and replaced with something else. We are under no illusions as to the potential consequences, and we speak with no sarcasm.
The last time I put up the tree in the house was 2004, when my husband was still alive. A couple of years ago I put it up in my studio, but there were no presents to go under it and it seemed a bit forlorn on the one hand and mocking on the other. So when the whole holiday season was over, I packed away the ornaments and the lights and took the tree apart and put it back i storage in the shop.
My personal economy has not changed much since then. I've paid off all my debts save the eternal education loan, and my income covers my immediate needs. I manage to save a little bit here and there, usually to have an emergency take a chunk out of what little cushion I've accumulated. But I'm okay for now. For now.
My kids, their spouses, and the two grandsons are on opposite ends of the country, my son's family in Seattle, my daughter's in New Jersey. I will not see them for the holidays. The rest of my family is in the midwest; I will not see them either.
So why put up the tree?
Because I refuse to give up.
Regardless what truth lies behind our celebration myths at the winter solstice, the fact remains that as a species we are able to look backward into the past and forward into the future with an uncanny ability to both understand and ignore the negative prognosis. Those who say -- Hotler! -- I have no hope, I see no future, still go forth each day with a tiny bit of hope that there will be some evidence that the future will be better. Better than what? Who knows? The past? The present?
Does it matter?
The days grow shorter -- here in the northern hemisphere where our most familiar myths originated -- and we can only trust that what we have seen in the past, the recurring cycle of lengthening days and resurrecting life, will continue. We know that one cycle has ended; we trust that a new one will begin.
We've recently had a wedding among our little group, and is there anything more hopeful than a wedding? There have been new babies born, and puppies taken in from the storm (literal and/or figurative), and homes purchased. Even though we know there are horrible things going on out there, even though we wonder if we can afford whatever it is that 2012 and 2013 and 2014, ad infinitum, hold for us, we go on anyway.
So tonight I'm going to put up the tree, not in the studio but in the little "family room" by the window that faces the vacant house next door. It's my toast to The Ancestors who didn't flinch from the cold nights and frozen fields, who learned somehow or other to make plans so they could survive the months when the trees did not bear fruit and the flocks could not find forage. To The Ancestors who passed along their knowledge -- and some of their fears, too -- so that future generations they would never know would find survival maybe just a little bit easier. It's also, this year, my way of thumbing my nose at those whose actions, if not their words, have brought about the catastrophe we see.
I will not let them win.
Fuck you, Wall Street.
Fuck you, Ben Bernanke.
Fuck you, Angelo Mozilo and Joe Cassano and Jon Corzine and Bernie Madoff and Tim Geithner and all the rest of you greedy pigs. (And yes, that includes my personal and much despised acquaintances "W" and "L" to whom money is everything)
Fuck you, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and Charles and David Koch.
Fuck you, Scott Walker and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
Fuck you, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.
Fuck you, Herman Cain and John McCain and Sarah Palin and Karl Rove.
I will put up my "Made in USA" tree, purchased before the heirs of Sam Walton became so greedy that they lost all memory that they shared this planet with others. I will string lights, some of which are so old they might have been made in the US before so many jobs were shipped to China. I will hang my old ornaments, many of them hand made by myself and friends and family members. And I will buy nothing new, because my tree needs nothing new. I will not consume for the sake of consumption.
But neither will I give up hope. I just flat out refuse.