Thanksgiving & the God of Longevity
It’s impossible to wrench the feeling of togetherness away from the expectation of the perfect American holiday season. We need the smiles and the sympathies of those closest to us to catapult us through the winter months and back into the sunlight and spring. The knowledge that our time with these individuals that make life more bearable is fleeting leads to the inevitable wish for more—one more chance for Aunt Annie to leave floured handprints on your back from a hug, one more giggle as Uncle Bob complains about the squirrels in the attic again, one more creak from the La-Z-Boy as Grandpa Bill settles in for a post-meal nap. We pray for time to pump the breaks. We cheers to doing it again next year. We feel empty when circumstance prevents it. So, we plead and petition creation for continued chances and longer days for ourselves and for our loved ones. Enter Shouxing—God of Longevity.
Fig. 1: Chinese Painting of God of Longevity by Xiao He. Dimensions are: 32 inches tall X 19 1/2 inches wide.
Armed with a staff to keep back the ravages of time, Shouxing shepherds those that revere him further into the future. The length of his beard showcases the years that he has earned, while the expanse of his frontal skull conveys the wisdom that can only come with long life. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, he’s venerated at birthday parties of elders(1), directly involving the god with gratitude for the gift of another year with a loved one. Together with star gods Fuxing, governor of prosperity, and Luxing, protector of status, the Fulushou brothers hold the keys to the good life: happiness, respect, and its continuation.
Whether we ask Shouxing, St. Peter, Shiva, or the Fates to extend life, beneath the favor is the desire for more togetherness. Many of us would be happy to spend an eternity at the kids table if it meant that those seats at the adult table would never become vacant. As we huddle around our tables this Thanksgiving or wish that we were able to, let’s hope that Shouxing gives Cousin Gabby another year to grow out of that phase, Grandma Ruthie another year to finally perfect that cranberry stuffing, and you and me another chance to sit back and appreciate it all.
About the Author
Edward Hocevar is a Gallery Assistant at Oakridge Auction Gallery. He has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing and enjoys finding new connections between seemingly disparate works of art and antiques in the gallery. He joined the Oakridge team in 2019.