Wednesday, 5 January 2011

If Christmas did not exist, would it be necessary to invent it?

Christmas begins at the darkest, coldest time of year. Almost exactly. The 25th of December is just four days after the winter solstice - the shortest, blackest day of the Roman calendar. It comes to prevent us approaching our wits end, really.

The season for love and understanding breathes dragon’s fire on us, doing its mistletoed best to melt our icicled hearts. It comes with blow-torched fiery kisses to sooth – or startle – people out of bleakness. Without its passion, and without the fire-toned twinkle of red dresses, red nail polish, red cranberries and red fireworks, would we, or would we not, sink into a black hole of despair? Would we not float lifelessly in the deathly dreary doldrums? Would our existence not seem meaningless without it? Or, worse again, pointless?

This wild conjecturing begs the question: if Christmas did not exist, would it be necessary to invent it?

Think about it: it’s a time when man-made sparkling lights battle the dark; a time when we warm ourselves with heart-felt gifts and exchanges of love. Of course it’s necessary that we do this at the darkest time of the year. But… what happens subsequent to our desperate attempt to escape the dark clutches of Jack the Ripper-Frost?*

Well, fires increases pressure (a law of physics) and boy, does Christmas bring its pressure. Stroll around a supermarket on Christmas Eve and notice the stern faces of determined shoppers. “If it takes an elbow to get to that last pack of thyme in time, then so be it,” the more determined out there will say to alleviate themselves of guilt (and criminal responsibility). It’s a time when latent tensions come to the surface; when good old fashioned arguments get belted out across Christmas cracker tables. For others, it’s a time to sit gloomily while staring into a mental abyss.

Of course, this is one side of a double ended phenomenon. If there are no latent tensions or depression, then it truly can be a cracking time of year where muchos fun can be enjoyed. Whichever end of the sword an individual sits on, positive or negative, they can be sure of one thing: Christmas is going to heighten, maximize, blow through the roof, everything that person feels at a milder level throughout the rest of the year.

Christmas comes at a price: for all of its cheer and warmth, it demands that we look into the giant invisible mirror it holds to our face. “Are you really happy?” it asks us on Christmas morning as we look around to see who is or isn’t there to share love with. “Are you achieving your highest possible potential?” it asks us as we meet old friends who ask us to summarise our life story in the five minutes they have to hear it.

Everything gets reflected back to us. It’s a time for excessive behaviour, over-indulgence and unrestricted play, yes. But it’s also time to have a good look down the rabbit hole. What do you want to see down there? What is the stuff of your dreams? What do you want to create in your life?

New Year’s Day. Aha! An opportunity for resolutions. It’s genius, really – the whole operation. The system is carefully built into the structure.  Rather than seeing through all the fanfare and man created frills, I tend to fall under the hypnotic temptation of a fresh start. Every. Single. Year.

In keeping with that going-with-the-tide behavioural pattern of mine, I have a stack of resolutions higher than my wildest fantasies following me around the house. Will I really be so healthy this year that I’ll float to the moon? Who knows. But I’m not done trying yet. I’ve kicked those dirty fags to the curb. Again. This time, I hope it’s for life and not just nine months (I realise that’s the length of a pregnancy and that by saying I gave up for nine months I’m implying I was pregnant, but I wasn’t. It’s merely coincidence that nine months is how long my will-power lasted).*

I’m intent on fulfilling my resolutions this year. To those cynics out there who think New Year’s Resolutions are stupid, I say: what better and more practical time to set resolutions than at the beginning of the year? I also say: Cheer up! If you’re done reinventing yourself then maybe you should be hanging on a wall in the Louvre with all the other completed works of art.

Anywho… to all and sundry: I wish you your best year yet!

*Both Jacks (Ripper and Frost) are related and in cahoots. Jack the Ripper-Frost is a figurative representation of this malicious (if supernatural) axis of evil. Warning: it is possible they may try to take over the world. Explanation: I made this up for the sake of it, and possibly for its humour factor, though dubious. Humans make stuff up all the time, that is the point of this blog. But it’s still fun to play with our creations – holidays, religions, theories, laws, etc. Existence is a game. I digress…

*Maybe nine months is the human limit for will power and that’s why the baby has to come out after that period. Ever seen a woman whose pregnancy goes over by a week or so? They’re not very friendly. 

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