Charles Dawson wrote about this year’s annual fuss about this time of year, its meaning and its potential to cause offence. Many bloggers have had a little moan about the season so I thought I would join in.
Before I do though, as you can see, I saw my robin in the garden again today, this time with his mate. Aren’t they sweet? They are extraordinarily tame. Anyway…
There is only one thing which bothers me about Christmas, and that is anyone who tries to tell me what it is, how I should celebrate it and what it should mean to me. Christmas belongs to everybody. So there.
So okay yes, the most commonly used word would indicate we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ who some folks understand to have been the Saviour of the Universe (or was that Flash Gordon?). But much of what Christmas looks like, including what time of the year it falls, owes itself to our much older pagan traditions. And then there is the Victorian influence; all our idealised images of Christmas festivities borrow heavily from A Christmas Carol, and centre around an open fire and Prince Albert’s Christmas Tree.
And then of course, there is the massive commercial influence (influence more in the sense of applied pressure) of our more affluent times. Lady Bracknell has commented on the bizarre concept that a family might feel compelled a new sofa or carpet for Christmas. As for the suggestions for Christmas presents from various shops that have arrived in my e-mail inbox during the last three months - I have been shocked! And only some of them appeared to be the correct size and shape to fit into a Christmas stocking…
All of which is not to say that the Christians are kidding themselves at all. Personally, most of the things I love about Christmas can be found in Church, adopted from more ancient cultures or not; the peace, the candlelight, the holly and the ivy, the choral music and then those concepts of Victorian philanthropy, updated to the idea that one way or another, Christmas is a time for reaching out to others, for kindness and warmth of spirit. Tidings of comfort and joy.
I don’t know many conscientious Christians who would say that things are of no value without faith in their Instigator. At least I am honest about this. And this is my culture, as I have written about before.
But Christmas as it appears today is a wonderful – if rather long in coming - compromise between the old religion, Christianity and other influences to our culture. So it is entirely in the spirit of the thing to take from it whatever you will. And that’s the most crucial point; whatever you will. Which includes taking a step back, having a peaceful time on one's tod if one so chooses. There shouldn't be any obligations, and there certainly shouldn't be any obligations to spend vast quantities of money, fix a grin in the company of people whose blood is their only commonality and to make merry. The only obligation is that of respect.