Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Somehow December 15th seems to be an auspicious day, though all that I can readily say for it is that we're now about one week from the Winter Solstice, when the days will thankfully begin lengthening. Perhaps it is the proximity of this date to Midwinter which also compels it to me. The ever optimistic human spirit delights in anticipation of what is to come, as we are about to round the corner so to speak. There is also no question that the pace of things begins to gather speed from this point onward, as we rush towards those magical dates of December 25th and January 1st, trying to condense within that space sometimes limitless obligations. Already I can see that regular business enterprise will give way to more pressing family and social commitments after December 18th, the last Friday before Christmas Eve. Christmas is such a licence for delinquence, as I can hear Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge's words echoing in my mind.

While retailers would have us think that everything about this time of year is filled with happiness and delight, many know that the opposite is true. Even if one is not among those rising numbers of our fellow men and women who are suffering the effects of unemployment, bankruptcy, hunger and homelessness, the mere exuberance of Christmas rather tends to accentuate anything which falls short of supreme happiness, whether material, spiritual or emotional. The sentimentality of Christmas, often fuelled by a superfluity of alcohol, can effectively reduce even the most critical thinker to drivelling nonsense. The obsession which many of us have to bestow upon others benefits far exceeding necessity can drive one mad, not to mention broke. I find this is a peculiarly North American disease. Having spent more than one Christmas abroad, I know for a fact that not every nation is so carried away with the commercialism of Christmas; and, that in other countries of this world, a handshake, hug, kiss or kindly telephone call is all that is warranted or expected on Christmas morning.

Having said that, the raw and grey December skies don't always tell the whole truth. By the application of some judicious restraint, and the adoption of preferred courses of conduct, the Midwinter themes can become a springboard for happier thoughts. The advantages of exercise, even if out-of-doors in the snow, cannot be dismissed. There are warm fires beside which to recover from the cold. The smells of the kitchen are perhaps most prominent at this time of year. Often this is the one occasion on which family can congregate and get to know one another again. For me, the background to all these festivities is music. Remarkably I never seem to tire of hearing the same traditional Christmas songs over and over again.

Whatever our disposition, it is hard to argue with the Christmas spirit. I can't see there is much harm in allowing oneself to succumb to the effects of the Season for a couple of weeks in the year. We all know we'll wake up with the same problems and concerns eventually. Nor must we ever forget that there is as much possibility for improvement. We can't change the past; we can't see the future; so we might as well do what we can to enjoy the present.

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light;
From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
Our troubles will be miles away.

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