God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Let Nothing You Dismay)


Christmas is once again almost upon us.  And “upon us” is how it feels this year.  Well, in reality, it feels that way almost every year for me.  That may, in part, be due to my (adoptive) parents having died around Christmas.  Him, three days after, in 1983; her, five days before, in 1993.  I wasn’t that close to them, but their deaths, amid a time of year that our society heavily identifies as being all about comfort, joy, and Norman Rockwell-style family dinners, probably do cast something of a shadow over the whole “season” for me. 

I want to love Christmas.  I really do.  All the lights and trees and fake snow.  The multiplicities of Santa Clauses (but imagine the confusion small children feel).  The spirit of bonhomie that, sought or not, descends upon us, sometime around the last Thursday in November (if not before). 

I know there’s a lot of authenticity in all of this.  Yet, there is also much about it that feels rather forced.  You know what I mean:  the gatherings, the dinners, the office parties; to say nothing of the trips to parent’s or in-law’s homes that are performed out of a sense of obligation or expectation … or just plain guilt.  Sometimes, the joy does not flow in a natural way, of its own accord.  For that matter, sometimes the joy simply refuses to flow at all, regardless of how much effort is expended in trying to make it happen.

It does not help that Christmas has become a cudgel wielded by right-wing conservative politicians and mega-church preachers (the latter actually being politicians by another name) in the fake “War on Christmas” that they themselves have ginned up as a way of attacking liberals and other progressive types.  It was fine when all they wanted to do was carry on about Jesus being The Reason for the Season.  I never saw it that way – it’s about Santa Claus, heartwarming stories, crackling fires in beautiful fireplaces – but to each their own. 

However, if you do want to go with The Reason for the Season theory, then you should at least be consistent enough to accurately represent, if not in fact emulate, the deity whom you purport to worship, and whose supposed birthday falls on 25 December.  By this, I mean, among other things, the following:

  1. Jesus, if we are to believe the mythology associated with him, was a working class Jewish man – a carpenter – from a family of limited means.
  2. Having been born in what we fancifully used to call the Near East, he would have been a comparatively darker-skinned person of Semitic stock; not that tall, blond-haired, Caucasian Jesus of my childhood, attired in a long flowing white robe that – miraculously! – remained pristine, despite the conditions of life at that time.
  3. Most notably, in regard to this Christmas story I’m writing, was his habit of associating with prostitutes and thieves and lepers, all of whom he treated with compassion and care.
  4. I’m sure I don’t need to remind these devout Christmas Warriors of the words in Matthew 25, but I will anyway: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
  5. Despite those lovely words, we have constantly before us the spectacle of alleged Conservatives, allegedly defending what they sanctimoniously call The Judeo-Christian Values of America by cutting Federal government aid to poor and hungry people, turning away refugees who are attempting to escape repression or poverty in other parts of the world (remember America as the Land of Opportunity?), creating legislation that will reduce or eliminate healthcare for millions of Americans, and encouraging the construction of more private prisons which will be filled with victims of the Conservative’s renewed draconian sentencing for low level crimes. They appear to have also forgotten these words attributed to Jesus: “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”

So much for comfort and joy.  So much for rosy-cheeked, Norman Rockwell family dinners in well-appointed, middle-class homes, all the happy generations sitting around a table overflowing with beautiful, fresh, nutritious, home-cooked food.  The self-appointed saviors of the republic, completely ignoring the Savior whom they pretend to honor at this time of the year (and, when convenient, at other times of the year), are instead bringing poverty, hunger and ignorance to the people whose best interests they were elected to serve. 

Ho, ho, ho.

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