“Christmas is just for children.” How many times have I heard that said? Not nearly as often now as when I was young. Thankfully, I suspect that most of the population under the age of forty would be totally horrified if you tried to suggest that to them. Judging from the many adult themed seasonal gifts and activities which are now on offer – even if many of them are based on over-indulgence – it definitely cannot still be claimed to be the case.
Like many of our so-called children’s activities and customs, including Father Christmas, the Christmas Tree, the nativity play and carol singing, these entertainments were once an integral part of the adult social calendar with their roots in ancient spiritual practice. The celebration of Midwinter is the marking of a solar event which has been crucially central to peoples around the globe since the dawn of time with tremendously serious implications for the future well-being of all mankind. Many religions throughout history have chosen to adopt this hugely significant event, Christianity being only the most recent.
If there is any justification at all for the claim that “Christmas is for children” it is in the fact that children best learn by example; our Midwinter/Christmas activities each year should provide all our little ones with ample demonstration of kindness, generosity and love so that when they, too, grow to adulthood, they will be able to function as caring, responsible and loving members of society.
Here is the real nub of the matter though. Are our modern Christmas activities and ethos fit for purpose in the kindly and caring education of our young? Yet whatever one’s views on Twenty-first Century society, millions of tiny, unnoticed acts of loving thoughtfulness occur each and every day and once a year, at Christmas, we are all given the opportunity to unashamedly demonstrate what genuinely lovely people we can all be. It also gives those who would never otherwise think of performing a charitable act the excuse to display the ‘softer’ side of themselves, disguising embarrassment and self-consciousness in the general melee of seasonal good will.
Who among us is willing to be thought ‘soft’ and carry the Christmas bon homie on further into January and the springtime? These days, another more frequently heard question in relation to the Christmas season is “Why can’t it be Christmas every day?” No one would actually want it to be Christmas Day every day of the year – we would very soon be utterly fed up with it! – but surely the question really appertains to the generosity and love engendered in so many hearts, which, on mass, is a potent and powerfully wonderful occurance. The answer, of course, is that we can have this every day… what is stopping you?
We are the people now grown to adulthood who’s parents made many small and large sacrifices and efforts to give us as perfect childhood Christmases as possible. In every generation there have been wars – or their aftermath – economic crises, health concerns and social challenges. Here we are again, about to enter another new year, with overwhelming social difficulties, even within our so-called privileged and secure United Kingdom: millions of people who work full time but who still cannot earn enough to adequately feed or keep themselves or their families. Others who are struggling with physical and mental ill-health; and the desperate yet ‘invisible’ section of society who live deplorable lives of struggle and hopelessness.
Isn’t it time to demonstrate that we genuinely understand the principles behind our Christmas celebrations and have learned our childhood lessons well? Share whatever little we have with our struggling neighbour? Do not simply think in terms of finance. A smile… a kind word… a friendly gesture… these cost nothing but a fraction of thought and effort and are a good start in bringing ‘Christmas’ into our every day lives throughout the other eleven months of the year.
Remember: Christmas is a state of mind and way of life, ALL the year round.
Think about it!