It’s that time of year again; a season of nostalgia for years gone by; a time when we fondly remember sharing this festive warmth with family and friends who are no longer with us. Memories, like an old and much-loved film, play in our mind’s eye; images of bygone days, scenes of our younger selves, our friends and loved ones gathered round tables that were laden in the twinkling festive glow.
But let’s pause that playback; let’s take another look at that festive table that our memory gazes on with misty eyes. Let’s look again, but without the rosy tint this time.
Those clove-studded centrepieces, glistening, succulent, and gold, once the euphemisms are stripped away, are body parts and corpses. They are the tragic, pitiful remains of innocents. Young and defenceless, their dying eyes were wide with agony, fighting panic-stricken for their final gasp, losing the futile battle for life as it drained and spurted from gaping throats.
Look again and see that cheese, those eggs, not as the ‘ingredients’ of our childhood myths, but as they truly are; as motherhood violated, corrupted, and sold for profit. Their rightful owners were gentle, innocent creatures; wide-eyed cows, sweet goats, and fragile hens. Each one had thoughts and memories of pain and desperation, each personality vivid and unique, each one crushed and anguished by the bleakness of their lives. All they knew was our relentless use; each moment of their short existence a joyless misery, their bodies trapped in cycles of the wrenching pains of birthing and the cold embrace of breast-milk pumping machines. We paid to have them slaughtered, executed, once they were too broken to go on.
Closing our eyes to breathe and savour the aromas of our feast, we need to pause again. That scent associated with familial warmth and good times shared, is the smell of death. It is corporeal decay, concealed with onion and with savoury herbs. It is decomposition masked with spice and fruit.
It’s hard when memories crumble into ruins, yet we have no need to wreak such devastation on these meek and defenceless victims for festivities that celebrate ‘peace’ and ‘goodwill’. This season, why not turn our backs on the bloodbath? Let’s start a new tradition built on justice and respect for all. Let’s truly find the peace and the joy we all crave, beginning on our tables.