My Very Best Kwanzaa Ever

By Jim Ryerson
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
(jim [at] travelingman [dot] net)
Dec. 30, 2008

I guess it’s appropriate that my best Kwanzaa celebration should start with Christmas. I had been raised celebrating the traditional holiday, although, in truth, I’d dropped out of the Catholic Church a few decades ago and the day held little for me but memories. But it wasn’t a search for a new holiday that brought me to Kwanzaa, it was Wal-Mart. My daughters in New Orleans had sent me a present (I had not given up that part of the celebration), and one of the items didn’t fit so on the Saturday following Christmas, I set off to exchange it.

My nearest Wal-Mart is in an upper middle class neighborhood of Los Angeles known as Leimert Park, home to a large African American population. As I got close, I noticed traffic starting to slow down, and finally stop. Anyone who lives in LA knows that a traffic jam is possible any time day or night, but this was ridiculous for a Saturday afternoon. Finally I got to where I could look ahead for a few blocks, and saw a parade. Why, I wondered, would they be holding the Christmas parade 2 days after Christmas? As it turned out, they were not holding a Christmas parade at all. It was a Kwanzaa parade, going right through the heart of the business district, in the middle of which sat Wal-Mart.

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