When does Christmas really start? Is it when mince pies go on sale (I saw some on a display window in Shropshire back in August when I was there. I kid you not!), or perhaps when my weekend papers begin to assault my senses with endless John Lewis, PC World/Currys and M&S A5 catalogues? How about when the lights of your town centre are switched on? Mine have been beaming out their Christmassy electric energy since mid-November.
Let’s talk about Christmas indeed. More specifically about our modern notion of the birth of one of the most important figures in the history of mankind: Santa Claus.
Despite my previous words, I do not despise Christmas. But, not having been brought up with the tradition (we used to celebrate Christmas’ Eve back home. However, even that was hush-hush as Fidel’s government clamped down on all things religious), I find myself at a loss over what is considered proper Crimbo etiquette. What I have noticed is that there is an unhealthy commodification around this yearly celebration.
That is why I think that Scrooge was on to something. You might have thought I was joking when I invoked his spirit at the beginning but, in reality, Charles Dickens gave us a visionary in Ebenezer. A prophet who saw the shape of future Christmas to come. Or at least the ghost of them.
|Miser or visionary?|
Ebenezer did not despise the poor. He loved them! But he knew what was coming to them. He could smell it (God, he had a huge nose. At least in the screen versions). Bad credit cards habits, debts, round-the-clock advertising, mental and spiritual poisoning of the young, you name it, our modern version of the yuletide season covers them all.
Let’s talk about Christmas. Especially, let’s talk about the real meaning of it now that secularism has given the Overweight Citizen from the North Pole the heave-ho-ho-ho. Is it family time with Morecambe and Wise on telly? Clad in our new PJs and gorging on chocolates? Frantically and aggressively tearing up the impressively wrapped presents from friends and relatives? Taking a selfie? Discreetly putting aside one of the aforementioned presents? Checking your status on Facebook, whilst your mum goes to the kitchen to check on the turkey? Discussing the meaning of life? Having yet another chocolate and promising yourself that “no, no, this will be the last one”? Taking another selfie?
Scrooge’s intention was to rein in this excess. Maybe he went about it the wrong way. But his message of simplicity ought to be heeded in our current race to exterminate ourselves through shopping. In the meantime, pass us some mince pies, will you?
Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published on Sunday 1st December at 10am (GMT)