We began Christmas Day in the hot tub, opened some presents and then dove into the pool. What’s wrong with this picture? To Christians in the Southern Hemisphere or southern parts of the Northern Hemisphere, nothing at all. But despite the Nativity story taking place in an ancient Palestine close to the equator, our image of Christmas is snowy landscapes, pine trees, roaring indoor fires. Though physically, the family is gathered in Palm Springs, California, we still hold the drawings from The Night Before Christmas as the norm and sing White Christmas and tread through the snow following Good King Wenceslas. It takes an effort of imagination to feel the Christmas spirit at 75 degrees swimming in a refreshing pool.
Here is another case of the way our white colonialist history has not only physically invaded other cultures and claimed them as their own, but dominated our imaginal landscapes as well, holding England as the beacon of the “real” Christmas with its Yule logs and wassail and carolers on a frosty evening, placing Santa’s workshop in Lapland, decorating the Tannebaums of Germany, walking the northern United States’ Winter Wonderland making versions of Frosty the Snowman. Population-wise, northern Europe and North America are probably a minority of Christians worldwide, but like the small group of conquistador’s ruling over Aztec Empires, it’s more about who controls the imagery than actual numbers. Why else would a dark-skinned black-haired Jew in Palestine be imagined in so many places as a blue-eyed blonde-haired white-skinned man?
So while some children are trying out their new sleds on their local snowy hills, I’m heading to the pool to float on a raft with a mimosa. Merry Christmas, everyone!