It’s that time of year again, Christmas Eve in fact. My mum, sister and niece are due to arrive at lunchtime. Tomorrow I have my ex-wife, her mum and my kids for Christmas lunch. The kids will then stop here for a few days.
And after all, they tell us Christmas is supposed to be a time for families to be together, for differences to be forgotten, for the spirit of giving and goodwill to mellow us all out, helped by a little alcohol. It is, in short a social occasion when we should take time off work
Of course, there is also the view that this should be a religious festival (which would obviously not affect atheists like me anyway, carols and manger scenes notwithstanding), though the grounds for saying that are dubious, to put it mildly. This is the midwinter solstice, a pagan ceremony, and from what I gather the alleged birth date of Jesus seems greatly disputed.
Ah, but it’s also the season for retailers to cash in and try to improve their impoverished sales figures for the year. Twas surely ever thus? After all, Tom Lehrer sang about the commercial nature of Christmas in the 50s with his version of a Christmas Carol (dedicated to that about which we care most – money!)
To add to the spicy mix this year, some retailers are bringing forward their sales to start on Christmas day, to which religious leaders object strenuously. In spite of the wintry landscape of economic austerity, they would have us tend to our spiritual nourishment first – presumably the attendance of their empty and draughty churches too, though primarily in the form of family time.
It’s a touch ironic that at one time the same religiously pious (among which I include a fair proportion of MPs and other public figures) used to claim that the TV was an instrument of the devil, preventing us from talking to one another, singing songs, playing board games and suchlike pastimes. These days they say we should be watching prime time entertainment together as a form of bonding, though I doubt very much whether you would find any programme every member of my family would choose to watch – this being the post-Morecambe and Wise/Two Ronnies era – and personally I don’t want to see any soaps, reality TV or anything where people are judged by self-important morons and voted on or off by the general public. Maybe I’m just becoming more cynical with age?
Never mind – may the spirit of peace and goodwill be among you all, and may your day be filled with joy and happiness. Let’s include in that the politicians and warmongers everywhere – time they learned the lessons of forgiveness and humanity too.