December 2011 / A New Christmas
Leonard Earl Johnson
A New Christmas
by Leonard Earl Johnson
We arrived in time for the Downtown Boudin Cook-off in Parc San Souci on Vermilion Street, two blocks from the train station. Norma kept us on the platform smoking with the other outcast smokers waiting beside the idling train.
"They don't let you smoke around food in Louisiana," she told a man-and-wife pair of chimneys from Los Angeles.
"They don't let you smoke around anything in L. A.," the woman said. "You can freely smoke in your car only. For Christ's sake. Your car!"
"That's a pure-air cure," Norma snorted through a smoke ring, "safely smoking while spewing car fumes." The train's whistle blew and the Los Angeles couple scrambled aboard and looked down at us from the observation car. The Conductor waved and we trudged off to Parc San Souci, which is French for "Park Without Concerns."
Tradition, the thing that passes our values from one generation to the next, and the next, and so on. We Christmas-celebrating Christians follow Gospel teachings about a Jewish Rabbi we have come to call Christ The King. He was born in the little town of Bethlehem two-thousand-eleven years ago this December twenty-fifth, according to tradition.
"Tra-di-tion!" The very thing Tevye sang and danced about in Fiddler on the Roof – the English script of which was taken from a story in Yiddish by Russian-American immigrant Sholem Aleichem. It is about events leading towards immigration and change. A story as American as apple strudel, and later told larger than life on Broadway and in the 1971 film by the same name.
Tevye’s lament was for Jewish traditions threatened by something new. Immigration. Change. For Christians, Jewish traditions became just that.
The Word. Those New Christian traditions were brought by the Romans to the Germanic tribes of Northern Europe. There was added Saint Nicholas, a. k. a., Santa Claus. The Germans had Santa Claus long before they had the Romans or The New Word of Christ. For the full skinny on this hefty subject see A NEW CHRISTMAS TRADITION in December's Country Roads Magazine.
In Memoriam: Raise it high for Coco Robicheaux who died in New Orleans, 25 November 2011, on his day off, at the Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street, in Faubourg Marigny. He was 64. You now march for him, too.
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