16 December, 2012

Come all Ye Unfaithful, are we Christmas Hypocrites?

And so it has begun. The season to be jolly. Fa la la la la et al will be upon our doorsteps before we know it and God help you if you've not decked your halls, wrapped your presents and girded your loins before December 24th-ish. I mean really, God help you - it's his fault Christmas exists, he could at least pitch in. Usually he slopes off after midnight mass on Christmas eve, chomping on a mince pie, and doesn't reappear until at least after New Year whence the commotion is over and he can just place himself nicely in the occasional post-Christmas prayer and munch on cold turkey. Without wanting to point fingers, haven't some of the world's largest natural disasters taken place on Boxing Day? Read; God was off that week.

Essentially, what originated as an 'annual commemoration' of the birth of Jesus, has swiftly become about something else. That isn't to say it has lost meaning, in fact I would say quite the opposite. What Christmas has developed into isn't so discriminatory as the concept of religion, but a concept that one and all can get involved in. Even those sinful gays and abhorrent left-handed people ('The right hand of the Lord doeth violently, the left hand of the Lord is exalted' - Psalm 118, v 15) can join in, now that Christmas doesn't present itself soully under the guise of a religious hols.

Whether it be the fault of God's evident Yuletide laziness (gone are the 6 days of hard-graft creating on a universal scale) or the fault of humankinds sheer obsession with consumimng all that there is and more - Consumerism Vs Christmas Spirit is a whole other blog post - the bottom line is Christmas really has lost it's merry way.

Hands up who 'does' Christmas (this can be anything from inadvertently catching a whiff of mince pie, to the full scale song and dance that is known as the Rock Around the Christmas Tree, decorations, presents, Turkey, puddings, the Queens Speech and Gavin & Stacey repeats)? Probably a large majority of people reading this 'do' Christmas in some form or another.

How many of those people, then, have ever been to midnight mass? Ever given a nod to the good Lord during your celebrations on the 25th? Ever actually, truly believed in the biblical tale of Jesus, Mary and the various people with tea-towels on their heads? I haven't and am not religious (or athiest for that matter, I'm a spiritual in-betweener). I knew it when I was 4 and wouldn't go to Bethlehem in the school nativity. I was aware it wasn't all quite true and I was not willing to partake...

It isn't the most revolutionary of musings but it sits uncomfortably with me that Christmas isn't really about what it's really about anymore. As observed, I am not religious (while I am not for one second a cynic and believe in the Tooth Fairy given enough hard evidence) as religion has for me always felt a little cult-ish (that said cult-ish) and rather unforgiving. Quite frankly I refuse to believe that anyone could have existed with such long flowing locks as the Lord Jesus supposedly did in an age pre-GHD's.

However I think therefore I am a hypocrite as I invest in one of the biggest of Christian holidays. And not just a little bit, I invest in Christmas to an extreme degree, regardless of my lack of 100% belief in it's roots. Christmas is basically my life's worth. I have spent all year asking my boyfriend how long until Christmas. Elf was based on me. At Christmas, I am cutting myself an extremely large slab of the festive pie but not really eating it...I am just doing it because it is fun and loving and exciting. As ecstatic as I am about Christmas and all it entails, is that really okay? Am I a hypocrite? Like those people who only step in to a church for the first time in their life when they decide to get married before a God they never believed in?

I have decided probably not (phew!)

My Christmas isn't really about Jesus' birthday, if I am honest, but it is about something that means a lot to me. Christmas is the one theme of the year that I dedicate over 10% of my annual allowance of time to (approx 36.5 days including prep and come-down), 25% of my annual leave from work and 100% of my savings,  however I will not invest my faith and thus my Christmas ultimately remains Godless. My Christmas is, though, about; my family, giving and receiving presents, sleep, food and catching a panto with the girls. That's it. I do get into the yuletide spirit (I am quite spiritual, so this is a brother of religion with whom I can converse) in as much as I go carol singing on Christmas Eve and I love the idea of Baby Jesus in his cosy little manger. Man, I wish I had a manger. Yet I love this spiritual side of Christmas in the same way that I love Cadburys World - it just makes me warm inside and I am likely to come out of it with free stuff and Chocolate will be there.

After Mulling it over, I have concluded that Christmas doesn't actually have to be about the concepts published in one The Bible some 2,000 years ago - times have changed and so has Crimbo. Christmas has progressed from it's roots as a religious celebration and become more of a general spirit, a mood, a culture. We have stolen a Christian thing and made it fit us. Yet it prevails in a positive manner, still promotes some really good, solid, meaningful values and it is one-size-fits-all to boot. Yes, oh left-handed pen holders, get back in here and grab your Turkey with whichever hand you please!

If Christmas is basically about being merry and bringing people together, in whatever capacity that may bring, then even though you might not be going to mass or thinking of Jesus or thanking him for all that he did for us, if you are are investing in the Christmas spirit and spreading a little cheer, then I think you're doing Christmas in a way that no-one can be anything other than okay with.

As you were.

*This does not include Santa. I firmly believe in Santa and as Elf (2003) proves, Santa is wholly and wonderfully real.