Alternative Christmas Story

The average American "consumer family" piles kids into a mini van, fights traffic and heads to that mall for the holidays.  If this is what "family values" means, I don't want it.  An alternate route awaited me one Christmas.  It was a gathering of gay people at this hostel.  A friend of mine, who lived out at the hostel and managed it during warm months of the year, invited a bunch of people to spend Christmas Eve with him.  About 25 people converged there.  They came from both the US and Canada.  I arrived by bicycle; a cool refreshing ride peddling the 2 hours from town. 

Along county roads, blue herons gracefully flew by this pond.  I thought about traffic jams at the malls. 

The route went past oil refineries.  Some people would think, "how awful," but it was nice.  Refineries are thought to be ugly so folks don't live or shop near them.  Ironically, this is what made it nice.  With no one living and shopping there, no traffic!   Continued below.

Also passing an aluminum smelter

There is a symbiotic relationship between refineries and traffic.  Refineries make traffic possible by supplying the fuel.  At the same time traffic makes the refineries possible because that is what keeps them in business. 

As this cycle of production and consumption keeps turning, I would rather ride on a peaceful road along a refinery fence, than be at the rat race around some mall.  It is like "being in the eye of a storm." 

This must be different than main stream thinking; riding along a refinery fence, going to a gay gathering; not piling kids into a mini van.

That gathering at the hostel was not some "big family gift swapping thing" that most people associate with Christmas.  Santa didn't arrive by helicopter and drop a bunch of certificates.  At one mall, I heard that some kids were trampled to death in a stampede of parents grabbing those gift certificates.

At the hostel there was no stampede; just a cozy group of people enjoying that quiet evening of food and conversation. 

Behind the hostel was this makeshift sauna.  Rick fired it up and everyone undressed.  First there was a cold walk across the grass to get there. 

Inside, things were gentle and warm.  A few light back rubs, but nothing hard core.  Everyone had a good time, young and old, large and slim.  It wasn't like shopping for the one best lover; nothing like shopping at all. 

Instead a wide variety of people came together for mostly conversation and the warmth of friendship.  This may not be like main stream Christmas, but it was good.

Drawing, by Mario, of that evening gathering. Games, conversation and food in the hostel common area.

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