Christmas is here.
Some time early in the day of Christmas Eve, snow began to fall. It was nice, floating down, the fairly fluffy variety of snow, covering everything in a suitably Christmassy, let’s say, blanket of the stuff. I like snow at Christmas very much, and this was a positive sight, with the one previous snowfall we had here so far having disappeared during a stretch of weather just barely warm enough to melt it all away.
I like Christmas. I love Christmas, actually.
It might be something of a sign of how many people are these days that even Christmas becomes a subject of petty squabbling, including arguments about whether it is a high holy Christian holiday or an old European pagan holiday, when in fact is it really both, fusing together and mutating as many things in human existence do. Some old observation of the winter solstice became reworked as the official church celebration of the birth of Jesus, and many things got wound together into the whole we see today. It strikes me as interesting to notice that some Jewish people like to join in with the Christmas celebration quite apart from the ritual of commemorating the birth of the Christ child. Accompanying this is the fact that there are many other people who join in, although they are not particularly Christian. Getting into that subset would have to include people who are not really Christian, to varying degrees, from people who have no real religious and spiritual thoughts and beliefs at all to people who might identify themselves as Christian, simply because this is a kind of social conformity of making some gesture of being part of a group because this is what they think they are supposed to do.
It is almost impossible to discuss this without taking notice of part ofwhat is considered Christmas tradition now, here in the culture where I live, of early 21st century America, after being born and growing up in the second half of the 20th century. This includes all the decorative displays that became a part of the modern Christmas season, all the cheesy pop music that became “traditional” Christmas music, apart from all the much older music that has existed for centuries in some cases, and, of course, the entire mixed phenomenon of the Christmas gift giving that became, to varying degrees among different people, a whole process of retail sales commerce.
I like the whole thing of Christmas gift giving, I think it really is a wonderful thing, but, let’s face it, that whole idea has been driven into something approaching madness with many people. This, of course, is not new, and it is something that maybe ought to get some more serious consideration, as circumstances have changed over time, over the course of my lifetime. The whole phenomenon of Christmas as a gigantic frenetic ritual of retail sales commerce and consumption has become almost psychotic, even as circumstances have changed so that, among other things, many people are simply in no situation to afford to go spend masses of money, or, in many cases, I suspect, accrue debt spending money they do not have, just to perform what they believe to be some sort of Christmas consumer duty.
That opens up quite a large and complex topic that would need to include quite a lot about economic circumstances in the present day United States, which, in itself, is quite a problem, with not the least of the problems being the lack of reality in people’s willingness to think about that subject.
I do hope that readers here have kept it all in a nice healthy perspective, this whole Christmas idea of gift giving, including a focus on the idea that the key word here is gift, this is not about trade. That, alone, is a thought that I think gets losta far too often, as people treat the whole matter as a transaction. How many people address the matter of Christmas gift giving in terms of not only who is on their gift list, but with an overriding sense of trying to balance the transaction, of giving a gift of equal value to the gift received from that party. People lose the plot.
Christmas Eve and Christmas day have now passed, but, it should be reminded, Christmas is not over, as I like the idea of the 12 days of Christmas. (As I also do not go with the nonsense of “the Christmas season” actually starting with the launch of promotional frenzy triggering Christmas business sometime in October or something). It’s still on.
I wish a happy Christmas to all.