My final Christmas

new_year_03It is with a tinge of sadness that I have realised that this is the last time I will celebrate Christmas. The decision came to me while I sat in church having taken my father-in-law to the Christmas Eve service. We sat in a nearly empty church while a handful of elderly people tried to celebrate a central tenet of their faith. It was at odds with everything outside. Inside they spoke about love and charity while outside we had watched people rushing, as I had been, to buy last minute presents and prepare for a few days of festive, feasting and excess. As I watched this I realised I don’t want to participate in this any longer.

When I was a young man with children I enjoyed Christmas. I enjoyed the rituals and the traditions and enjoyed spending money so that I might see the pleasure on my childrens’ faces when they opened their presents. But over recent years I have found myself increasing estranged from the event. Little of the event now relates to the original Christian traditions; cards rarely mention it, songs likewise and there is little spoken about what it actually being celebrated. If anything at all is being celebrated.

Cast adrift from its roots in faith, Christmas now rides the waves of a sea of ennui and dyspepsia as we all try to maximise our pleasure by eating, drinking and buying. Like many others, I now live a reasonably comfortable life and any gifts I give or receive tend to be small luxuries as, thankfully, none of my friends or family live under hardship. Winter festivals, including those that predated Christmas,  were important in times of scarcity while we awaited spring. They were a chance to lighten our spirits, to kindle hope that the future will be positive and to allow ourselves a bit of comfort in a bleak period. In a post-scarcity world there is little need for this. The things we buy are are no longer important bridges to help us through to better times but simple luxuries, often completely useless items, we hope will temporarily heighten our pleasure. I am too old to believe in Santa Claus and  I am jumping off this treadmill of gift-giving.

I tried  purchasing charity gifts for all as a way to circumvent these problems but realised I had made an error. In doing so I had not enabled the gift receiver to give to charity. They had no choice and thus took no part in the decision to donate. I had not really given to charity either, as I had used money I was gifting to someone else for this. So, in essence, I had given nothing of my own to charity, someone else had not chosen to give to my charity freely, and I had advertised the fact that I had donated. These acts of virtue signalling allow everyone to lose a little of their dignity and I doubt engender much future charitable giving. In hindsight it seems a lose-lose scenario. (I will continue to give presents to my grandchildren at this time of year but simply because I love them and enjoy seeing their happiness.)

I hope my stopping celebrating Christmas will help me find something I fear I am loosing. I will still want and need a way to express the ideas of faith, hope and charity through the winter months. But this will be much easier if I don’t have to  participate in Christmas. I have faith that humanity is good. This faith may at times be tested by the actions of a miserable abnormal few, but there are more times when humanity impresses me with its benevolence. Because of this faith, I have hope that we will continue to make the world a better place for all who live in it and I personally hope that I will play my part in doing this.This leaves charity, the most important  aspect. I need to be more charitable and will use this time of the year to remind myself of this. I may be comfortable but some of my fellows are not, I need to do more to assist them. I can use the year’s bacchannalia as a paradoxical reminder to work harder in charitable actions.

via Daily Prompt: Festive



8 thoughts on “My final Christmas

  1. Faith is a personal thing, in my opinion, and I treat Christmas Day no different than any other. I am just as liable to share my coins with the Salvation Army in July as drop them in the red kettle in December.

  2. The s[irit of Christ(mas) offers a person’s soul a chance to experience a rebirth with the true meaning of life and existence on the planet.

    On that first Christmas day gifts of love and hope were offered the savior and lord incarnate in recognition of his divine nature and man’s appreciation that salvation was finally at hand.

    Try to forget the commercial side of the day. Focus more on renewing your personal relationship to God . Church might not be the way for you to gain this intimacy with the lord but do try to not despair because the world at large has forgotten the true meaning of the day. We’re only human afterall.

    A yearly rebirth and renewal of your faith in God is the main event here.

    Wishing you the best the season has to offer.

  3. I’m a druid and only celebrate the solstice, earlier this week. Religion is a personal choice and I feel many are as commercialized as much as Santa.
    Treat the day as you will. I’m on vacation!
    It doesn’t have to be daunting. We don’t decorate, shop or worry about the day. We leave on vacation. 😎

  4. It seems that “Christmas” meaning has changed… so should the way one honors it. But I do hope you change your mind about ‘forgetting’ it. I think you will lose something that held value to you because of the opinions of others. I am not sure that they should have that kind of power in anyone’s life? Just a thought??? Enjoyed your reflections!

    1. Sorry about the incomplete reply, I was trying to answer on my phone and it has a trigger happy keyboard.
      Yes, that is certainly a constructive viewpoint. I agree in that I intend to be a great deal more deliberate on how I undertake charitable actions on this date and make this clearly the focus of my celebration. I hope that thus I may salvage some of the positive feelings that I recall I had in former times.

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