I Wish I Knew How To Celebrate Kwanzaa

image - Flickr / Clotee Allochuku
image – Flickr / Clotee Allochuku

I want to know more about Kwanzaa. There are a number of challenges here, like, for starters, I don’t know anything about Kwanzaa. Actually, that’s not true. Around December, if you ever watch regular TV, in between commercials there are always those really cheap “Happy Holidays” type announcements, “Here from all of your friends at Channel 4!” And there’s always a Christmas Tree, a Menorah, and then that other Menorah-looking candleholder that’s associated with Kwanzaa. And the only reason I even know it has something to do with Kwanzaa is because the little Clipart Kwanzaa candles say, “Happy Kwanzaa!” right underneath. And now another Kwanzaa is underway, and I’m wasting another year, not celebrating, not even doing anything to make Kwanzaa a part of my life.

I guess I could just look up its significance on the Internet. But that’s so demoralizing. Whenever I don’t know something, it’s now just this automatic response to start looking it up online. It’s the the same automated song and dance here, opening up a new tab on my browser, I start typing in, “www.google.com,” which is already totally unnecessary, just a bad habit I can’t seem to kick. And even going to the Google homepage is a waste of time, because all you have to do is start typing whatever you want right in the search bar.

Which is also very unnecessary, because I guarantee you that when I type “Kwanzaa” into Google, the first thing that’s going to pop up is the Wikipedia page. That’s how it is for ninety percent of all of my searches. I type something into Google and the first result is always Wikipedia. And I always wind up clicking, out of habit, for lack of imagination. What am I holding out for? Why am I putting myself through all of this extra work? I guess I’m always just hoping there will be something besides Wikipedia, something unique.

Something unique enough for Kwanzaa, which, from my perspective, it has to be the most unique out of all of the major holiday season holidays. Well there are only three I guess. Ramadan happens at different times every year, right? I hope that’s right. I’m not doing any research for this at all, and so I hope I’m not just making stuff up.

And I hope you don’t think I’m being disrespectful of Kwanzaa. I’m not. It’s just that, and I feel like I try to make an effort to know what’s going on, in my life, in the country, but I haven’t been touched by Kwanzaa, not even once, not even indirectly. And you could attribute this to a number of things. Like I went to a Catholic school. Or I grew up in a suburb with mostly white people. Not a lot of Kwanzaa going on.

But it’s more than that. I see it on TV. Or I see people saying “Happy Kwanzaa” on TV. But even after I left home. In college, there was no mention of Kwanzaa. I’ve worked several jobs with all different people and nobody has ever brought up Kwanzaa. No coworkers. Nothing. This could be a reflection of me living an insular life, oblivious to the world right in front of me, refusing to look up stuff on the Internet. I should just look it up. This is probably coming across as very insensitive.

But maybe Kwanzaa needs something to help really kick it up to the mainstream. Maybe I could be part of a Kwanzaa revival. OK I’m worried about coming across as offensive. I swear I’m not trying to be. All right, I’m just going to look it up real quick.

OK, Google, yeah, Wikipedia, yup. OK, African-American culture. Black nationalism. OK, Pan-Africanism, African Diaspora. Yeah, there’s nothing that specifically says I can’t be part of Kwanzaa.

I also just feel bad because the only people I ever hear say “Happy Kwanzaa” are those people I was talking about earlier, the faceless TV announcers. I’d love to be able to wish a Happy Kwanzaa to somebody celebrating Kwanzaa. But I feel like if I went up to somebody and asked them, “Hey, do you celebrate Kwanzaa?” I just can’t see that going over too well. You know what I mean? I swear I’m not trying to be offensive. Happy Kwanzaa! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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