Kage Baker liked the Rose Parade. True, she lamented that the weather always lured more people to California. And she never saw it live – the idea of braving those crowds made her cringe in horror. In fact, she never even saw it in real time – always one of the multitudinous time-delayed reruns for Kage, who refused to rise early on a legitimate excuse to sleep in.
But, like most residents of the Los Angeles Basin, she was charmed by the floral inventiveness that poured down Colorado Boulevard every New Year’s Day. Except for when it didn’t …
Weather never stops the Rose Parade. Fires, floods, roaming robots, insane signs and self-aware sprinklers have all tried to slow it down (CalTech students practice their Mr. Wizard skills a lot in Pasadena) and this year, the Parade has even cheerfully absorbed the Occupy Movement into its ranks without a moment’s hesitation. But not today. Not on January 1st.
Why? Because for over a hundred years a handful of Christian churches have prevented the Parade from marching on a Sunday. If New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday – no Parade. It rolls on the Second. And even though Kage was mostly a Catholic, she thought that was outrageous. The churches don’t even enter floats. If they did, and chose to pull their entries when The Day falls on a Sunday – well, that would certainly be their right. But it’s not so cool to dump on the rest of us.
At the other end of this year, we are looking at a handful of – well, wingnuts – who are attempting to scare the world to death with loud assertions of its imminent ending. I think it’s rather a weird pair of eschatological bookends: We can’t have a Rose Parade today because it’s someone’s sabbath (no one in the Parade, mind you, just someone) and at the other end, the world is predicted to be destroyed by someone else’s various holy writ. Not the people who actually wrote that holy writ – and many of them are, actually, still around – but just by, you know, someone.
No Mayan, no native North American, no Persian or Egyptian scholar contributes to the theory that the world ends in 2012. In fact, most of the very few Mayans whom anyone has thought to ask about it – who include a traditionally trained calendar keeper, by the way – have rolled their eyes and sighed and said, “Look, it might be neat if you idiots did disappear next Winter Solstice: but don’t look in my holy books for the proof. You doofuses don’t know what you’re talking about.”
That last remark is a fairly literal translation of a statement by a Navajo Medicine Way leader on a newscast I saw last night. He was more polite than I was, but he’s a professional, after all.
Anyway: I don’t see much difference between the silly predictions for the end of this year, and the prissy Parade-refusals at its start. Neither did Kage. And even if the world does end next December – or may even because of that – I miss the roses and the marching bands today more than ever. We need them more, times like this.
But, hey – there is still ham and Christmas cookies and coloured lights and my family all safe around me today. It’s a beautiful new year, and even if it does end – well, the world ends for someone every day. Let’s just make the most of this one while we have it, and not borrow trouble from the disaster-mongers.
Happy New Year.