December 4th: Christmas
I spend an extraordinary amount of time thinking about Christmas and, yet, at the same time I spend no time thinking about Christmas at all. I refer, of course, to the fact that my lens on Christmas is a commercial one, rather than a spiritual one. Christmas is so familiar and routine to me that occasionally I lose sight of what it’s all about. I am not religious, but I respect the huge significance of the celebration for those that do believe. And I love the tradition of Christmas, as do millions of others.
Six times a year I run a quiz at the office where I work. I’ve been the quizmaster for 18 years and each event is well attended. At last week’s Christmas quiz we entertained 30 teams of 6 players, which is about as many as we can fit in our staff canteen. As I announced the questions relating to subjects such as film, pop, carols and fairytales, it struck me just how far and deep the roots of Christmas spread through our culture. Participants ranged in age from under 20 to over 60, and yet the reverence with which the subject was approached was tangible. As each question was read, a hush spread across the room. Everyone felt they could contribute, everyone had the answers within. We are all immersed in the fun and folklore of Christmas from such a young age that it’s almost like a second language to us. We may not speak it all the time, but for a few weeks each year we are fluent.
However you look at it, Christmas is a marvellous thing, especially when the country has endured a year as bleak as this one (with more to come methinks?). Yes, there are less savoury sides to Christmas, but the way the celebration brings people together for an event so rich in storytelling, generosity and shared experience should give us all hope and faith in whatever we believe in. TFG.