One of Stephen King’s last books (he puts out so many that saying “last” isn’t usually accurate) is a short story called Elevation. In Elevation, Scott Carey loses weight progressively without implying that his health diminishes. On the contrary, he feels better every time, and that feeling better leads him to do something for his neighbors, a couple of lesbian women who run a Mexican restaurant. It was published in 2018 and talks about how love and meeting someone who is different from oneself makes life possible. That it is generosity that saves us from sadness and makes life possible, is exactly what makes us human. It’s not a scary story, not all of King’s stories are.
In hogfather (daddy pig in Spain) Terry Pratchett tells a Christmas story. The night of The Vigil of the Pigs, when Papa Hog has to go out to distribute his presents… something has gone wrong. Daddy Hog has been kidnapped. Without gifts there will be no Vigil and without Vigil the mythical fabric of reality itself could end up being destroyed. So DEATH (Death speaks in all caps and no hyphens in Terry Pratchett’s books) and his granddaughter Susan have to get going and play Hogfather. The kidnapping has been carried out by a psychopathic murderer incapable of understanding (and supporting) anything that goes beyond the literal. That is why he is hired by ‘Los Auditores’, some entities whose intention is to convert all existence into an accounting report. Reduce, therefore, all passion to literality. Quantify and order it. A supreme power to undo mystery, chance, surprise, imagination… Life.
Some have defined Pratchett as a satirist, but nothing further. hogfather It is not a novel against Christmas, nor that it starts from Christmas to satirize it. Rather, it is a story about its importance. Specifically, it is a novel about the importance of shared beliefs. Both in the text and in its television adaptation, it is explained that belief is essential for the sun to rise again, but these beliefs cannot be maintained if they are not permanently updated. Christmas can be loved or hated, that is less important than understanding its importance. An importance that those who try to enclose it in some kind of essentialism or reduce it to its literalness will always want to kidnap. To a technical myth.
Christmas movies are always diverse. There are those who bet on Living is beautiful. There are those who bet on Gremlins, Placideither The jungle of crystal. There are those who see it over and over again Princess by Surprise and who needs to sing the songs of Frozen or watch the movies of Harry Potter or the trilogy of The Lord of the rings, etc etc. And there are those who don’t see anything, or prefer to read a book or buy churros. It doesn’t matter. It’s not important. The important thing is the mix between repetition and variation. Set a point in the year and give them a meaning. The moment from which the light returned and it was getting hot and soon it could be cultivated again, the day we see grandmother, when we eat lamb, or soup or… when we are a community. A time in which we force ourselves to meet others.
It doesn’t always go well, it’s often stressful, there are those who have a really bad time in that meeting. He has the right to experience it from another place, or not to participate at all. He will surely have his own ways of reckoning with the year, of meeting “his people from him” from him. And understand me, “his people of him” here are a joyous and jubilant crowd of different options and varied pronouns. An explosive mix as are all communities of people. A very rare and mixed joy.
There are many Christmas Eve dinners that will be sown with hate, that hell that grows when, as I said Terry Pratchett “You start to think of people as if they were things.” Sometimes that hatred will turn against people who are at the table itself and sometimes it will be against the outside. In the cases in which it is inward, we defend that there is no greater joyful passion than fleeing. To flee, to escape, to break the bonds of hatred and to compose new bonds. As the LGTBIQ communities did and it reflects so well “It’s a Sin“, the miniseries about the early years of AIDS created by Russell T Davies. As it explains leslie feinberg in his wonderful “Stone Butch Blues“. Or as account Pose, the series of Ryan Murphy.
A Christmas of joyful passions, of hate escapes, of unexpected encounters, of hope in the midst of horror. A Christmas in which we do not “hope for the best”, because waiting never brings anything good, but that does not “despair in the worst”. A Christmas of joyful passions, not of good feelings. A Christmas where anger fits, but produces power and not despair. A Christmas full of the possibility that when the sun rises the world will be both the same and different.
Ho Ho Ho…