It was a tale un-tellable to children, at least that was what I thought when growing up. The tale of King Herod ordering his men to search every house in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas in the kingdom, then killing all boys two years old and below, was always a downer-of-a-story for me. Imagine when we were about four or five, I and my brothers had just celebrated Christmas with new toys, then played on like any child would, only to be reminded of this scary tale everytime the 28th of December came around? Bummer indeed, and in 70s-speak, badtrip.
However, it had only been recently, when I found out that in Spain, the El dia de los Inocentes, as the 28th was called, is celebrated annually with much revelry and practical jokes, or pranks. Their take on the date obviously centers around the tale of how Herod was fooled by the wise men when he asked them to bring back news of the infant’s location. In some provinces of Spain, the day is likewise marked with huge egg-throwing war games, played by the local townspeople and other revelers. When it came to really commemorating their massacres, those conquistadores surely have a sick sense of humor, no?
For us Ponciano children, it had always been a case of that here-we-go-again moment at the time, when my aunt Pilar would always remind us of its much-grimmer significance, and as always, that was no laughing matter for us, los inocentes de ponciano.
Alas, scaring children nowadays, is a big no-no, and something short of harassment. Then of course, growing up kids these days have plenty of things to be scared about, other than Bible kill tales. Things like bullying, earthquakes, conflict, no internet, looming unemployment when they finally work, plus other modern-day catastrophes too many to mention.
I might as well add prognosis of an uncertain future in lieu of bohemian lifestyle to the list, but do the young really care for such old people’s follies? This coming 31st is eve of the New Year (that’s tomorrow when this sees print), and who else, in this topsy-turvy world will be left standing to care about New Year’s resolutions?
This casual tongue-in-cheek tradition that is as short-lived as it is renewable has become as empty as “new me” promises that comes with each new year on the kalendaryo on the wall. No changing that.
I guess the only template left to go with is the one closest to the child within each of us. Be bolder and stare down all fears. Then in all our endeavors, remember that regret is more frightening than not trying. Give Herod and the haters the finger, and most of all, bravely free-think your way to 2020 and beyond. As postscript, lace ’em all up with what Ringo always loves to say: Peace.