Archive for the 'Christmas' Category

Christmas

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Christmas marks the calender like an indelible marker, for as much as you know that its arrival is meaningless nevertheless its passing always registers somehow upon you.  Of course this is understandable when you consider how long you are hounded, night and day, by the merchants anxious to receive your generosity, or more poignantly by various media outlets so overcome with Christmas cheer that they insist on joining with you by orchestrating a mass outpouring of yuletide fervour in carols by candlelight.  What is not understandable is that the world has not allowed this obvious recipe for unbridled nausea and cynicism to put an end to the charade.  There must therefore be, hidden under all the tinsel, some profound need in man that he has fulfilled through Christmas.  Why else would he bother?

The church, of course, gets in on the act raising itself to the full height of its stature that it might, in some measure, be equal to the pomp and ceremony that this self proclaimed importance has, most humbly, thrust upon it.  Naturally they fail miserably, but not without the entire world being forced to endure their pious platitudes broadcast through the various media outlets.  It's all part of the carnival!  What would Christmas be without the spectacle of grown men, looking unbelievably pompous in their fetching gowns and ludicrous hats, pontificating self-righteously to the assembled once-a-year Christians.

That Christmas endures year after year in the face of such worthy attempts to relegate it to the 'poor taste' day of the year, speaks volumes for the pluck and the resilience of the human spirit.  It would seem that we need Christmas with all its bacchanalian and hedonistic undertones.  We forgive retailers in a spirit of Christian 'goodwill' for their excessive clamour.  We choose to overlook their salivating over our paychecks, their polluting of our minds with their 'rent-a-carol' background muzak, all in the name of Christmas.  Both parties are somehow 'better' people, ritually cleansed through this subtle round of seasonal posturing.  We are much healthier for our forgiving attitude and they are much wealthier for having allowed themselves to be publicly humiliated to have been placed in our debt and be thus in need of our heartfelt compassion!

Of course the poor we always have!  Without them the party wouldn't even begin to get off the ground!  There is something inexplicably heartwarming about seeing our civic leaders giving up their precious time to humbly serve at the traditional paupers Christmas dinners.  The poor, whom through their policies and indifference they help create, being used carthartically to release the leaders repressed humanitarian qualities.  Who hasn't shed a tear in the face of such powerful symbolism?  For that one day of the year all is as it ought to be!  The fact that the poor live in cardboard boxes the rest of the year simply means that they only need to be gift wrapped to be brought out for next years celebration!

Yes the wonder of it all is that at bottom there are those who really believe in Christmas.  People from all walks of life actually believe the day means something.  Pope John Paul II for example actually believed that Cuba was a better place when it officially sanctioned Christmas!  Somehow Christmas is the sign of enlightenment, the mature response to the birth of Christ!  Never mind that the day has more in keeping with pagan nature worship than the humble suffering love of Christ. Nevertheless it must say something about man that he needs, and to some extent believes in the 'Christmas spirit'.

At best Christmas is a recognition of our imprisonment.  We need to acknowledge our lives aren't all that they should be.  We need a vehicle to express our Utopian dreams.  Heaven must somehow visit earth!  Good food, good wine, good cheer, contented children, satisfied parents, the poor clothed and fed, even full churches!  Christmas, as a day, has a lot going for it.  The major problem of course with Christmas is the other 364 days of the year it stands in contrast with.  Our deep need for Christmas is a recognition of our failings.  The more foolishly we cling, the more desperately we acknowledge our shame.  For if Christmas was really about the celebration of Christ's birth the celebration would never cease.  Jesus came to give life and give it abundantly.  Yet we, supposedly a Christian nation, acknowledge our lack of that abundance once a year.  Instead of the abundance of Christ – joy, peace, patience, love -we rejoice in an annual party.  This is why I find this such a sad day.  For on the one hand it is a cry from the heart for a better life and on the other an acknowledged lack of faith towards God for it to be possible.

The church leads the charge.  They want to put Christ back into Christmas, yet if they had really received Him they would know that every day is Christmas and each new day is a song!