23 December 2008

I Hate the Holidays - Part 2

A few people appear unable to access the conversation on the listserv, so for them here's the second of my three posts. (See original here.) This one drew the most fire from listserv subscribers:

Some defenders of the holiday season say that it enables families to come together. That's part of my point. Why does it take the holidays for people to meet - or for other people, in more privileged positions, to arrange for poor families to get together?

Consider the holiday celebrants who give 'to the hungry' or 'the needy' or 'the less fortunate' - but only at Christmas.

Why do these people bother giving at all?

  • From obligation, due to religious or cultural pressures? If yes, surely they must see the hypocrisy!
  • To feel good about themselves? This suggests that such feeling can be bought.
  • From guilt, because they have so much and others so little? If so, then why give just once a year?

Here's what my community would like to tell these people: We are not here to absolve your conscience. We do not want your gifts.

Shocking, isn't it? How dare we!

We dare. We dare challenge a system that enables positions of privilege for some and imposes bottom-of-the-food-chain status on the rest.

NB: In these posts, I was writing as the coordinator of WISE, on behalf of myself and other low-income women who were members of (the now defunct) organization; i.e., on behalf of only women I knew. Responses received privately from the listserv displayed incredible lack of sensitivity and close-mindedness.

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