|Creative commons pic by AdamKR|
Ponder this: Santa sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake. Ergo, Santa knew that that little kid was watching him kiss her mummy. That child woke from her slumber, heard something going on, and snuck down those stairs for a peek. HE KNEW! Santa knew, but he went right ahead pashing her mum. And if that's not creepy, then I don't know what is.
Seriously, though, there's about 16,000 reasons ahead of that one why I loathe Christmas. It's not even the Jesusy bits either. I'm quite partial to his far-seeing, regardless of whether he lived or not. Some of my loathing is probably partially due to the fact that his birthday wouldn't even have been on 25 December anyway, that this whole thing we do was a convenient way for a creepy church to do away with all that nasty pagan earthy womany dirty solstice stuff and slap a bit of Jesus in there to whiten it all up.
Christmas is empty, meaningless and void. As far as a ritual goes, it's cobbled-together shite, an excuse to load up consuming extra stuff for no real reason whatsoever, unless you are a Christian. I guess when you look at where our culture is at in the decay/renewal stakes, Christmas is actually the perfect end-of-year ritual for a collective space that has also become empty, meaningless and void.
|Creative commons pic by Andrew|
If I could wave a wand, I would replace Christmas, sometime soon, logically, the same way it is logical to stop using coal as an energy source when a sun beats above our heads. Because it's quite obviously reached its use-by date. But Christmas is not going to stop anytime soon, and parents are forced to keep the tired old show running (especially because for many them it probably doesn't feel tired and old at all) because there is nothing like Christmas to guilt a parent into feeling they have to give their kid way more than is good for them. That's actually why these brave souls have cancelled gift-giving this year. I take my hat off to them.
I don't have children, so I'm happy to continue to be the grinch who wants to kill Christmas. Now, the traditional retort of bah humbug may also come from those who ride the swell of the season without paying it too much mind. It's just Christmas, you know, and just like the weather's hot and the beach is beckoning we have tinsel and trees and Santa and stuff. That's what we do. What's the ish?
That kind of swell-riding is, well, swell if you can go there. Not everything needs deep massive analysis and inspecting about where it all fits together - or should - in the system so that stuff works properly and we get to live beautiful. Unless you're me. And so therefore I struggle to go there, to empty ritual, because it actually hurts me. This may sound weird to some people but that's just how I roll.
But hey, I understand why hating Christmas categorises me as a scrooge. And I understand the need for traditions in the face of so much uncertainty. But Christmas hurts me in the same way that watching the economic bit at the end of the news hurts me, with its relentless focus on economic growth without ever once mentioning that it is impossible for such a thing to keep happening in our current economic system without continuing to kill the earth's resources and make climate change worse.
When you find yourself living in a bizarre and dysfunctional paradigm, empty rituals can be as creepy as Santa copping a feel of Mum under the mistletoe. I've thought a lot about this sort of thing in the last 15 years of enforced solitude through chronic illness. Meaningful rituals are absolutely necessary for a culture to keep itself glued together. I guess that's why I'm not so sure Jesus wouldn't have sympathy to my desire to ditch the whole Christmas thing. He seemed to have some kind of an understanding of the importance of wine needing new wineskins. Empty, dead, floppy rituals may possibly be intellectually dangerous to people requiring empowerment, people who have been so heavily and heartily Bernaysed.
I love my family, but my partner and I are resigning from Christmas this year and going away, to a mudbrick house halfway betwen Daylesford and Castlemaine. My illness has flared horribly this year, my anxiety is extreme, and I don't know from one hour to the next how I will be feeling. Apart from the fact that I just simply physically don't know if I can do it this year, the fact that the meaning behind the get-together is something so empty with such high expectations, makes me feel worse. The fact that in the end it's just a get-together meal with my family is something that I struggle to get to from the layers that surround it.
Can't we get together in March instead?
Can you imagine a collective ritual whose individual elements fit together to make some kind of story, one which has resonance and relevance to our daily lives? One that makes us feel or think differently, that opens us all up a little so that the shame of being called consumers all year by lying politicians can seep out and be replaced by something a little more edifying and heartening and empowering? A ritual that's sort of something like a big roleplaying game that you can walk into and play each year. A ritual that means something, that helps us feel part of something bigger than ourselves that is beautiful, not destructive?
I don't quite know what that is. But it'd be a ritual worth doing, I reckon.