Saturday 8 December 2012


We broke with a short-lived tradition this year.
In the past Kira and I have been bringing in our Christmas tree no earlier than Christmas Eve.
It's a European custom where the kids wake up to a tree on Christmas Day.
I've always felt that no one really relaxes and enjoys the tree until the actual holiday.
But by the time we get ours up, everyone else is planning on disposing theirs.
It's the great rush to have Christmas, and then a great rush to put it away.
I thought by starting later, then we could enjoy it longer.
But culture is contextual and breaking rank just makes it awkward.

I have many strong opinions about Christmas.
My view is that it gets hijacked by special interests.
The festivities are used to propel agendas of every kind.
The meaning gets lost so easily.

To be honest with you, our family observes Christmas for many different reasons.
I understand the juxtaposition of Christianity upon pagan spiritual celebrations.
Regardless of the history, the core values persist; or at least they ought to.
Christmas is a holiday when we should celebrate the magnanimous capacity of the human spirit.
But the fact is that it brings to bear many of our worst cultural customs of greed and ignorance.

Our family focus is on celebrating blessings at the end of the harvest,
at the bleakest time of year.
My ancestors were the pagans of Europe and the Winter Solstice has been observed in pagan tradition long before Christianity reached throughout the continent.
Our Christmas tree descends from those early days of celebration.
There is an important connection to the earth and the cosmos that is feted during the Winter Solstice.
Adding the altruistic celebration of Jesus' birth only enrichens the old world traditions.
The story of Jesus is hope in the dark.
A harbinger of resurrection.
Just as the observance of Winter Solstice signals the return to longer light.

I have a reputation for being a Grinch during Christmastime.
But it's only because I despair for the cultural tradtions that strengthen us.
The ones that have been lost to a post-modernity rife with the gluttony of Christmas present.

We do our best to carry forward the best of Christmas for our children.
The challenge is doing so in the midst of the contemporary festivities.
It's a shame that we must wade through the depth of worthless holiday values in order to teach our kids about the virtuous heart of Christmas.
Giving, sharing, forgiving, family, community, reflection.
The most enduring traditions offer a promise.
That there is hope for ourselves and for the future.
Observing tradition re-kindles the fire of hope in the darkness of early Winter.

And so we brought our Christmas tree in earlier this year,
just because it is Christmastime after all.


1 comment:

  1. Well, it's not November, so I think you're okay. I recall, as a kid, that many of my friends' trees went up shortly after Halloween. Most of these families were so tired of 'the season' by Christmas that there were entire subdivisions of trees discarded on the curb on Boxing Day. While my family didn't wait until Christmas Eve to put the tree up, it was usually somewhere around the 21st. It seemed to make sense that the Christmas season coincided with the time we were off school. My more religiously minded mother also wanted to take the tree down on Epiphany, the 12th day on which the magi were meant to have arrived in Bethlehem. I'm glad the season wasn't rushed in my childhood to the point that we wanted it over as soon as we'd emptied our stockings.