I sometimes reflect on the events of the world around us over a mug of tea /t:/ and so I’ve challenged myself to write on any subject that ends in /ti/.
Today’s topic is Nativity
Although celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ was originally (and still is) a Christian festival, it has stretched and morphed, two thousand years later, into present day ‘Christmas’, which is celebrated in most parts of the world by believers and unbelievers alike, just in different ways.
So, according to the traditional Christmas carol, ‘Tis the season to be jolly’:
Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
‘Tis the season to be jolly
It is, indeed, a season of merriment and mirth, of eating our favourite foods and, for adults, drinking copiously. Lots of sweets for children who await Santa’s arrival expectantly on Christmas Eve. There’s a Christmas countdown in the way of an Advent calendar. Each day from the first of December, a lot of children hunt for and open a camouflaged window on a Christmas scene where they will find a small chocolate image to eat. When I was a child we didn’t have the chocolate bonus. There was a picture of a traditional Christmas item (a wreath, a stocking, a finely-wrapped gift, or whatever) and my sisters and I would squeal with delight and excitement each time, ‘Look I’ve got the Christmas tree!’ or, ‘Wow! I’ve got the reindeer!’ as though this discovery was fresh and new year in, year out. Those were also the days when siblings shared things, more or less harmoniously, between them. So, in my house, it was one calendar between three. Nowadays children usually have a calendar, or sometimes even two, of their own, and they would no doubt feel mutinously disappointed if there wasn’t a chocolate behind the card door. One mum told me that her kid had made himself sick by opening all twenty-four windows and eating all the chocolates on the first day.
For those of you who’ve never had an advent calendar, here’s a musical one for you to count down with. Enjoy!
Smaller children, with very little grasp of the passage of time, or the counting of days, are told ‘five sleeps ‘til Christmas’ in the way of helping them to better anticipate the arrival of ‘The Big Day’. By the same token, shops and businesses announce, ‘Only five more shopping days until Christmas’, this is to ensure that their anxiety is mounting at the same rate as their children’s excitement.
For most of us Christmas now has become a season of consumerism on caffeine, where demands and expectations can be very high. A lot of people get into credit card debt over the Yuletide period and, in this consumer race to the Finish line, the pressure to literally and figuratively ‘deliver the goods’ is substantial. In a desperate attempt to find an inoffensive gift, that will always be useful, thus merit the relinquishing of hard-earned cash to acquire it, many of use resort to the gift of socks.
In an attempt to avoid this frenetic consumerism, and to economize, many people also give us homemade presents:
Christmas is also, for many of us, a time of reflection: a time for nostalgia, of remembering friends and family members who are no longer with us; a time of giving and sharing and a time to count our blessings and to be grateful for what we’ve got, however little it may be.
In the general spirit of ‘Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men (Luke, 2.14) people are kinder to each other and more cheerily sociable at Christmas. Even in wartime there’s sometimes a one-day ceasefire on Christmas Day and one of the most mythical truces was during the First World War. Many would argue that if we can make an effort to be kind at Christmas, why can’t we be like this during the rest of the year?
One of the most famous contemporary Christmas songs, ‘Merry Xmas War is Over’, written and performed by John Lennon, explores the idea of Christmas signifying world peace and tolerance:
This Christmas, 2020, will be a very different one for all of us. I think it will be a period of reflection for some and deep sorrow for others. In spite of this, for the majority it will be an exercise in resilience; very much a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ yuletide. In general, I think we’re all going to moderate our Great Christmas Expectations this year.
In her traditional Christmas Day address to the nation, ‘The Queen’s Speech’ last year, the Queen described 2019 as being ‘quite bumpy’. This is the expression we use when your aircraft hits turbulence, or the road surface upon which you’re driving is rough terrain.
l wonder how she’s going to describe 2020 this Christmas Day. A quite nasty plane-crash of a year?
Covid19 has, and will continue to limit our movements and interaction with others, but nonetheless, we’ve shown an extraordinary capacity to adapt to the circumstances, and will continue to do so over the forthcoming year.
Despite the circumstances, life goes on, and it’s in our best interests to make the most of our limited situation. This is an opportunity to give thanks for what we have, to show affection, appreciation and kindness to those around us and to ‘share’ in all the senses of the word, not just for social media memes and jokes: ‘share’ responsibility in the family, ‘share’ time and ‘share’ other people’s hardships.
A very Merry Christmas New Year
And a Happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear (John Lennon)