Do I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day…?
The Mass of Christ.
A holy-day when Christians and, let’s face it, otherwise secular types, celebrate the birth of a messiah on that freezing December day in snow-covered Judea over 2000yrs ago.
It, allegedly, happened in a humble stable outside of which stood one or two majestic Norwegian pine trees, twinkling in the light of a star brought into being by a deity to mark the birth, out of wedlock, of His/Her ‘son’ by a virgin teenager, initially impregnated without her knowledge or consent.
In the deep snowdrifts outside Bethlehem, a few shepherds were treated to an apparition announcing goodwill and peace among men throughout the world. A statement or message as trite and meaningless then, in Roman-occupied Judea, as it is today in a Middle East, predominantly occupied and bomb-cratered by Yeshua’s Christian descendants acting, ironically enough, in the interests of the descendants of the very Jews who executed their founding messiah.
The humble couple later had a visit from three ‘kings’ – or ‘wise men’ – or ‘magicians’ – or ‘stars’ who offered gifts which, in 1st C Judea would have set the family up quite comfortably, to be fair.
Then they left, briefly calling on the local governor of the occupying forces before bugging off and taking no interest in the life of the newborn they had travelled vast distances to see and upon whom they had bestowed such lavish tribute.
The Mass of Christ, today is marked by panicked and frenzied consumers, laying in copious supplies for that long, desperate 24-hour shutdown of supply outlets across the country.
Rather like a drunk, desperately buying two or three pints for himself in case the barman calls time before he has finished the first. Enough, he hopes, to see him through until the pub opens the next morning.
Or the smoker, discovering before bedtime that he only has two cigs left, prompting a dash to the local all-night garage to procure a full pack for the next day.
The media mainstream who, all year long, spout the establishment narrative of the need for endless war and the scripted destruction of sovereign nations brimming with ‘terrorists’, now proffer feel-good, saccharine movies, featuring protagonists finding redemption from greed, cynicism and lack of human empathy.
Marketing campaigns for famous retailers who, throughout the year, boast of their cut-throat profit/demand-feeding prowess to their stockholders, portray themselves as socially-conscious, charitable and philanthropic entities, intent on promoting a peaceful, well-fed and supplied world.
Throughout the season, the ubiquitous sound of all the same classic carols and ‘popular’ songs accompany the stressed consumer from shop to shop. Songs boasting the most naïve and stunningly unrealistic ambitions in their lyrics that, nevertheless, evoke in the victim a yearning for what Christ’s mass used to be about – or, at least would, represent, if they had any say in the matter.
The music also brings with it powerful feelings of nostalgia. But, nostalgia for what?
For a time when our own drives and motivations were pure and innocent?
For a time when we actually believed that our race was universally capable of sustaining more than just a pretence of ‘goodwill to all’ beyond one day each year?
For a time when the realms of politics, media and market were populated by the most altruistic, well-meaning and honest among us?
And reindeer could fly.
And a jolly old man gave us things for free if we were good boys and girls.
“And so this is Christmas”: A usurped and bafflingly conflicting celebration of materialism, excess and greed but, at the same time one of philanthropy, love and peace.
A celebration born from the ancient marking of the middle of the ‘starving season’, when the sun (son) falls into the underworld for three days and returns, triumphant, from its annual ‘death’.
What it has become today is, to me, in its meaningless and shallowness, more and more, a cause for mourning.
I can see the frowns and raised eyebrows that this admission provokes and I respond with a shrug and a pointed finger.
Is what we do now – what we have ever done – to mark this time of year, anything to do with promoting the concept of worldwide peace and ‘good’ will to all people?
The concepts of forgiveness and reconciliation; the recognition that lack of conflict, free giving, basic humanity and duty to assist those less fortunate than ourselves without expectation of reward saturate popular beliefs in this part of the year as the greatest qualities our species can aspire to.
For this brief portion of the calendar, we give and feel the good for doing so.
We talk the talk; we walk the walk.
And, then what?
What about any, and every, other day of the year?
What changes on December 27th? 28Th?
Where are these values, for example, on March 4th or any other random date, say, August 23rd?
Why do we, before even the tinsel and lights come down, eschew all these lauded aspirations to be better people and return to the usual, historical business of mankind, i.e.: carving each other up and screwing each other over?
And, here am I, criticising the hypocrisy and pontificating about all that is wrong about this season…
Am I above criticism? Am I also a hypocrite?
Yes. Yes, I am.
I also dance the dance of the tranced consumer so as to involve myself in selective gift-giving to younger family members.
I enjoy the excesses of Christmas dinner and exchange wishes for a ‘Happy Christmas’ with others who do the same.
I don’t decorate simply because I live alone and I’m basically lazy …and because my hypocrisy actually has limits.
My ‘goodwill’ to my fellow man also has limits and comes with provisos.
That said, I am sure that, at the time of writing, there is not one single person in this world who I would not actively try to save were I to see them drowning. One or two individuals come to mind who might cause me to hesitate for a second or two but, however much I might despise their values, politics or behaviour, I would try.
However, I would do so because it is the right thing for me to do according to MY values and inaction on my part would reflect more on me as a human being, however much they might, perhaps, ‘deserve’ a watery demise.
It is in my nature to give my time, energy and resources freely when I am able. If I can help, I try to do so.
I do so because I hold inside me a small nugget of hope that a benign act on my part might be remembered and reciprocated when/if I find myself in need. Or, that the recipient of my own kindness will remember it and feel honour-bound to assist the next person they see in need in the same spirit.
Believe me, I am no saint. Not by a long shot.
But I know how it feels to need help and have it refused.
I have personally witnessed avoidable death and injury occur because others weren’t willing to freely give the time, resources nor energy to avert it.
I know how I felt, and still feel, about such poor specimens of humankind and I refuse, for reasons of self-worth, to ever be considered as one of their kind.
I can be dangerously impulsive. I can be selfish, prideful, envious, bitter and spiteful.
But, at each moment of decision – at each fork in life’s road – I try to do the right thing.
I know I can do ‘Peace’ and ‘Goodwill’. I truly can.
It is demoralising that so many of my kind across the world can’t and, indeed, won’t, manage to pretend to do more than one day of it.
So, as 2016 draws to an end, as far as I can tell, the only things enhanced by this season of fakery are high-street retailers’ profits, the expectations of children and the debt-burden of parents.
And if you ask me, if ‘Christmas’ can’t be every day, it is pointless and, frankly, insulting to all past, present and future victims of the lack of genuine peace and goodwill, for it to be any day at all.
Perhaps, if there is anything positive to take from this overlong, seasonal grumble of mine, it is that, from me, you can be fairly sure I come in peace and, if you happen to be drowning within earshot of me, I can be relied on to at least try to save you – whoever you might be.