Christmas is a time of joy… well at least the Christian faith and commerce in general would have us believe that it is.
Both are rather questionable as it is my understanding that Christ was born in September, and December 25 was in fact a Pagan holiday used very conveniently by the church of long ago to attract Pagans into the Christian faith! As for commerce? Well that is simply taking advantage of a situation for reasons of profit.
From a positive perspective, it is nice to see the spirit of Christmas in our culture. It is nice to see people in general being a little friendlier; that charities are supported more willingly, and that a large part of our world is, in general, a nicer place. I believe that in the 1914-1918 war in Europe, there was a mutually agreed ceasefire on Christmas Day. I also believe that, in some areas, there were even shared celebrations. It does seem rather incongruous that the person you share a meal with on one day, will be trying to kill you the next… but that was Christmas in the trenches!
Carol, being of mid December birth, drew my attention to an unfortunate aspect of such timing. Her birthday is easily overlooked due to the focus being on Christmas preparations. Those who remember her birthday will often present a joint birthday/Christmas gift… at Christmas! There is still joy at Christmas, but it is so easily reduced in impact as a result of such timing!
My heart goes out to all those people who suffered a traumatic experience close to Christmas as, regardless of how well they cope with their circumstances, the season is going to be a constant reminder of the event. I cannot imagine how those individuals are coping right now who lost somebody close to them, or experienced trauma, last Christmas!
I have been very fortunate in that being of October origin, my birthday is not competing with Christmas for attention, and I have no trauma in my past which is going to distract me from the holidays. I do find that my “joy” is tempered knowing that the “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men” will be largely forgotten after Christmas however, it’s a start and should be recognized as such.
In Toronto, there is always a “Build a Toy Mountain” at this time of year, with all the toys being distributed to less fortunate children. The philosophy behind this annual event is that every child in Toronto should have a toy at Christmas. It is a very successful event, and very heartwarming to see that toy mountain grow as we get closer to Christmas, but my “joy” is again tempered with a rather obvious question. While it is wonderful that all children get a toy for Christmas, how do those same children react to Easter, Thanksgiving, Birthdays and any other days that their friends may well celebrate but they do not?
Should we really get excited about Christmas? Is there really joy to be shared? From my perspective, there is absolutely no doubt that Christmas, regardless of its origins, is a time of year to spread joy. Christmas, regardless of its shortcomings for the struggling families, reinforces our appreciation of our own particular place in this world. Christmas projects a very strong message of compassion and caring and, while it may be lost after the holidays, it is potentially a catalyst for our collective conscience and any resulting actions are a reason for joy.
Let us all celebrate Christmas in or own way, but let us not forget those whose birthdays are imminent; let us not forget those who lost a dear one, or experienced trauma, at a Christmas past; let us not forget those who are considered at/below the poverty level. Many of us have the ability to spread so much joy so let us do that. Let us spread joy in probably the most unlikely places, and Christmas Joy may well take on a whole new perspective!