December 25, 2011

Ho Ho Ho…Merry Christmas! At least it’s usually merry for those of us who love Christmas, notwithstanding the Scrooge in every family who tries to make the holiday miserable because they can’t enjoy it themselves. It can be a volatile time, and most families get together only to find themselves on the verge of a family meltdown. 

It’s pathetically infantile that we can’t gather once a year for joy and merriment to celebrate Jesus and exchange gifts without pushing each other’s buttons. Yet it happens to almost all of us, particularly when we come together under one roof as adults. Those who say Christmas is for children are right, but children come in all sizes.

I still love Christmas—despite the fact that almost every year there is a major family drama where doors are slammed, insults are exchanged, and tears are wept. I love the gleeful spirit, listening to Christmas music by the fire, wrapping presents, stuffing stockings, choosing and decorating the tree, setting up the crèche, watching snow fall, and all the glorious holiday food.

“Happy Holidays to you and Merry Christmas to us! “

Once the tree is erected, the men in the family begin the eye-rolling and teasing, acting as if all this Christmas business is ridiculous. Actually, they simply don’t like Christmas and prefer to be in a bad mood for several days—instead of pretending, as my mother and I do, that Santa is coming and we must set the scene and put on faces of good cheer. 

Humbuggery, you say! Certainly. And why not? I can think of nothing more appealing than a false veneer. Appearances are not necessarily bad, and keeping them up—especially when one pretends things are better than they really are—is the essence of civilization. I didn’t always think this way, and I can see why for some, truth above all else is necessary. Fighting against tyranny, hypocrisy, or suffering is a perfectly noble endeavor, especially if it brings the truth to light. 

But when it comes to Christmas, most of us know Santa doesn’t exist and that the world and our families are not perfect. What’s the harm in a little cheer and make-believe? So you had a miserable childhood and your early Christmas memories are fraught with mirthless images? All the more reason to relish the occasion now and treat each other like we would treat a child who still believes Santa Claus wears a red suit and rides a sleigh pulled by red-nosed reindeer. At the very least, indulging the Christmas fantasy is the polite thing to do—particularly since life can be painful. Fanning the flames of misery at the end of every year is antagonistic and selfish—the precise opposite of what Christmas is about.


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