(Caution: Contains graphic images. May not be suitable for younger readers.)
Thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what it means to be an American this time of year. First of all, I'd like to thank a group of University of Oregon students in Eugene for constructing this giant American flag. And, as I suspect, if this flag is made from cans donated from our Oil Tanker secretary of state's backyard, I'd like to also express my appreciation to Condoleezza Rice for recycling. Used oil barrels transformed into the stars and stripes is a thing of beauty and much inspiration.
Oh what's not to love about Christmas time of year? One need only walk around the neighborhood after dusk to discover whole worlds of elves and trolls coming to life, working their season's magic upon the darkness of night. It really does make one smile. Even if one doesn't feel like it. But just as enchanting as the nighttime becomes around the 'hood, there's that one-time startling moment the day after that inevitably jumps out at me this time of year as well.
It was a couple of weeks ago on one of my morning walks with the new dog, "Sammy Cincos", that we came across a ghastly scene. In the front of a neighbor's house was a yard littered with bodies! A dead Santa, snowman, multiple reindeer -- all lying slaughtered in the winter grass. It was like discovering the aftermath of a nighttime fire fight just hours afterward in the first light of day. It looked like the F-16's had been called in for support too. In reminiscence of a Ramadi massacre, this is what I saw.
But these are just inflatable snowmen, reindeer and Santa that come to life each night when they are blown up. Unlike the *real* Santa's convoying in their "sleds" down Iraqi highways who don't spring to life when they get blown up. They die instead.
This is a picture of one of those Santas in Iraq I received sometime within the past week. It was sent to us as a kind of Christmas card. (I've altered it for obvious reasons, i.e., I didn't get permission to print it before publishing it here on the blog.) But, trust me, it's an authentic photo of an American *Santa Claus* taken from somewhere inside Iraq a few days earlier (I'll not reveal where--not so much to protect the innocent, as to protect my ass--but rest assured, it's an authentic "Merry Christmas" photo. I also edited out the person Santa had his other arm around who sent it. Ah, that'd be the arm without the high powered automatic rifle.)
But as I reflected on the two images over the next day or so, I thought they made an interesting contrast in imagery and, taken collectively, provide an excellent collage of who we, as Americans, are today.
The first image, one of contemporary American Christmas lawn ornaments showing a collapsed Santa, reindeer and snowmen--they're all across America, purchased at any Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.--lying dead and lifeless by day until blown up at night. This juxtaposed with Santas in Iraq spreading cheer behind high powered rifles, so vibrant and alive by day, until suddenly blown up on some Iraqi roadside.
How cosmic is that? With tens of thousands of collapsed-by-day plastic purveyors of the joyous meaning of the season littering the yards of America, while in Iraq lie tens of thousands of collapsed Iraqi men, women and children, many blown up while sleeping in their homes at night.
And somehow I suspect it's gonna get even better come the new year. So I think this is an excellent time to stop and reflect upon the meaning of Christmas, peace on Earth, good will to men, and all that other meaningless bullshit America clings to. Peach on Earth, goodwill to men is truly a grand delusion.
To the Santas in Iraq I wish for you, that you could lay down your weapons. To give Iraqis the best gift possible. Your absence! Just leave! There are millions of us back home who would welcome you in your red Christmas suits. And you wouldn't need to carry a fucking assault weapon to spread the season's cheer to little innocent children!
Please come home soon. Merry Christmas!