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; view again that festive table that our memory gazes on with misty eyes. Let’s look again, without the rosy tint this time.
Clove-studded centrepieces, glistening and gold, when seen without the euphemisms, are corpses. They are the tragic, sad remains of innocents, whose dying eyes were wide with agony, fighting panic-stricken for their final gasp, losing their futile battle as bright blood spurted from their gaping throats. Look again and see that cheese, those eggs, not as the ‘ingredients’ of our childhood myths, but as they are, as motherhood frustrated and denied. Their rightful owners were gentle cows, sweet goats and fragile hens, each mind, each personality vivid and unique, but crushed and anguished by the bleakness of their lives. All they knew was our relentless use; each moment of their short existence was joyless misery, their bodies trapped in the wrenching pains of birthing and the cold embrace of milk pumping machines.
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 death. It is corporeal decay, concealed with onion and with herbs, 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 helpless 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.