Vague ramblings

Old chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Posted in Life, Musing, That which is cool by Ian Cundell on 17 December, 2013

Those who know me will – I suspect gladly – attest that I can be a little on the …um…caustic side.

One friend recently claimed to have seen through this ruse and come to the, frankly scurrilous, conclusion that I am at heart a romantic. I could, of course, fight back by noting that a cynic is simply a romantic who means it and, while that would be mildly amusing, I should probably concede that it’s a fair cop. Well, up to a point.

Let’s think about Christmas (enjoy the link tunes too).

The trouble is, having been an atheist since I was eight years old, the idea of believing in Father Christmas is rather moot. I have no trouble with the idea that much of the ritual of Christmas in “borrowed” from earlier myth and legend (from Mithras to European pagans). Christians might be very adept at it, but borrowing from our forebears is neither new, nor especially bad. Birth, renewal or revival are common themes in just about every system of belief around the World, and the wonder of life is as astounding and awe-inspiring to an atheist as it is to anybody. Christmas really just latches onto a universal truth. And what’s wrong with that?

So, yes it is nicked and yes modern corporations exploit it to extract as much cash from us as possible. And yes, people get terribly stressed by it.

In my youth Christmas wasn’t Christmas until Mum had had at least one major tizzy. And that is the problem. I took a decision a long time ago not to let Christmas stress me, or to stress others with it: when Mum asked what I wanted my answer was always the same: something practical – socks, underwear, anything to spare me bloke-woes was most welcome. And Mum got it – sure, she would drop in some treat or other (alcoholic or chocolate or both, it would be a nummy treat), but she got it: she knew I was serious. And I miss her desperately for it.

Sorry – need to take a break.

Right. So. The thing is the idea of Christmas is fantastic. The idea of a time to hang out with people we like. The idea of a time when we can all be just a bit more tolerant, just a bit more patient but also just a bit more relaxed can’t be bad. Add to it the notion of reflecting on the lessons life might teach us, before heading into the New Year festivities, is rather cool. Of course we won’t keep most our New Years resolutions; but if we don’t spend a little time reflecting, then we won’t make them in the first place. If an idea is planted we might just pick it up later.

Why shouldn’t we have a time of peace and joy on Earth? Why should we be cynical? It is such a cliché to be cynical. So easy.

And. So. Damned. Lazy.

It is quite possible that if we didn’t have Christmas we might just have to invent it. Charles Dickens wrote of Christmas as an act of looking back, looking around and looking forward – and then acting on what we saw. That’s not a bad place to start and it works whether you mark the Season as Christmas, as Yule or as Solstice. A child is born, a season is born, a year is born. Sometimes, when the calendars coincide, Eid or Hanukkah fall alongside Christmas and, ah sod it, Diwali is close enough so lets welcome anything that celebrates light over dark, knowledge over ignorance or hope over despair to join us around the hearth.

Rejoice, I say, rejoice. The light is coming. So make a noise with your toys and ignore the killjoys.

And do as Judy says.


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