Kwanzaa and The Art of Intimacy

December 26, 2015 7 By Michael
Harold Michael Harvey and Cynthia M. Harvey sharing a dance during a celebrity chef event at the Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia, August 30, 2015. Photo Credits: Herbert Dennard

Harold Michael Harvey and Cynthia Marsh Harvey share a tender moment dancing during a celebrity chef event at the Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia, August 30, 2015.
Photo Credits: Herbert Dennard

Kwanzaa and the art of intimacy, what is it? How is it expressed? Can intimacy be communicated through conversation? Can it be shared through the nuances of the silent beat in between the rhythmic beat of life? What does Kwanzaa have to do with intimacy?

A recent social media post to my Facebook page stirred my interest in this topic. I posted a picture of our table setting prior to Christmas dinner this year. My wife and I are the proud parents of one child, a son, whose work requires that he live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This year like Christmas last year, his job as a sports writer for a major media outlet prevented him from coming home for Christmas. We have grown accustomed to the fact that once the professional football season begin we are not likely to see him until after a champion has been crowned following the Super Bowl. This year we flew to Cincinnati on Thanksgiving day to have dinner with him and some of his friends.

Usually, the wife and I will have an intimate dinner in the breakfast nook of our home with Christmas music in the background. This year we decided that although it was just the two of us, we would have Christmas dinner in the dining room, with linen napkins and our finest china. We had spent the day in prayer and meditation, developing an intimate connection to the source of our being. It was a delightful day.

In selecting our seating arrangement, we decided to sit as if we were surrounded by family members, as we had been in Christmases past. We would in essence, invite the ancestors to dine with the two of us, as they had done when they were on this side. So, I sat at the head of the table as usual and my wife sat at the other end of the table.

Christmas table setting at the Harveys, December 25, 2015 caused quite a stir on social media and prompted the writer to pontificate on the intimacy of Kwanzaa. Photo Credits: Harold Michael Harvey

Christmas table setting at the Harveys, December 25, 2015 caused quite a stir on social media and prompted the writer to pontificate on the intimacy of Kwanzaa.
Photo Credits: Harold Michael Harvey

During our meal, we talked about the time various members of the family had gathered around the dining room table and shared Thanksgiving and Christmas cheer. We reflected on those who had transitioned before we built our home twenty-five years ago this month. With Kwanzaa following on the next day, we thought this was a perfect time to call upon the ancestors in the tradition of Kwanzaa.

It was as if we were sharing the intimacy of this year’s dinner with them; with my Uncle Paul who transitioned six months before he was to marry us; with Lester Marsh, my father in the law, who did the same, the month before we moved in; with my grandmother, who moved to the other side two months after we moved into our home; with my uncles, John and Heyward and Aunt Charlie Mae, who were present in our home the Year we welcomed the 21st century into our lives.

Following, this beautiful intimate dinner with my bride of thirty-four years, I checked out my Facebook post and was amazed to find that several people thought that just because it was the two of us, we should have been seated closer together.

“You should be close every chance you get,” one friend opined.

In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with their suggested seating arrangement, but we had a larger purpose in mind on this occasion. We wanted to enjoy the remainder of Christmas and to begin preparation for Kwanzaa observance.

Others talked about the missed opportunity at intimacy.

There is a time and place for everything under the sun; including a time to honor the ancestors who may choose to warm us with pleasant memories of themselves. What better time to reflect on the birth of the Messiah, the lessons He taught and the interpretation of those lessons by the ancestors? God knows our contemporaries in the Gospel do not have a clue.

Cyn and I, being empty nesters for nearly a decade in a spacious home,  often share intimate moments during the course of a day. On days like today when neither of us have to go out, I usually arise while she is still dreaming, make a pot of coffee and bring a cup of java back upstairs for her before she awakes. On days when she has to go out before I am awake, she will leave a fruit bowl for me in the refrigerator and will take my coffee cup from the cupboard and have it ready for me on the counter. Small things that mean a lot in daily living; much more than sitting next to each other at dinner time, especially when the ancestors may desire to pay a visit.

Caricature of Charles and Puella Harvey, grandparents of the writer. Artist Rendering: (c) 2008 Coley Harvey

Caricature of Charles and Puella Harvey, grandparents of the writer.
Artist Rendering: (c) 2008 Coley Harvey

As we begin Kwanzaa 2015, remember to make room for intimacy with the ancestors. They want to hear from you. Call their names. Lay out your hopes and dreams. Listen for their instructions on how you can turn those hopes and dreams into reality. Call their names: Joseph Harvey, Paul Coley, Charles Harvey, Puella Coley Harvey, Dollie Harvey Dixon, Wayne Harvey, Frank and Minnie Bell Johnson, etc….

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.