Do you really know what Christmas is about?
I used to be too clever for Christmas.
I mean, you’ve got to admit it’s a bit silly. Particularly when you’re sweltering through 40-degree days in Melbourne, Australia, watching some poor bikie earning minimum wage by dressing up in a nylon ski-suit. It’s a total farce.
Ever wonder why Santa wears gloves – it’s to hide the tattoos. He’s got n-a-u-t-y tattooed across the knuckles of one hand, and n-i-c-e tattooed across the other.
(He won’t talk about how he lost that little finger.)
So yeah, Christmas, pine trees, mistletoe, Christmas puddings. It all just seemed a bit contrived in the Australian setting.
And I guess that perspective made even the European traditions look a bit silly. One of the key pillars of western culture is the idea that a jolly fat man riding a sled pulled by magical rein-deer, takes to the skies every Christmas and gives gifts to the children who have been good.
Never mind the kindergarten-level moralising that goes with this story, but it’s one of the most important cultural practices we have, and – spoiler alert – no one actually believes that it’s true.
And the fat dude in the red suit has absolutely zero to do with the supposed reason why we’re celebrating Christmas – the birth of Jesus.
Nope. Santa was stolen from the pagans, who stole it from eskimo shamans… as much as anyone really knows.
And then all that was slapped onto a winter solstice celebration to line up with people’s existing festival calendars.
And as if that wasn’t enough, slop a great fat cherry of western consumerism on top of that and voila – one of Western cultures shining lights.
(Excuse me if I’m sounding elitist. But I’m Greek. I have a right to be superior. My people gave the world democracy. Europe gave us stocking stuffer.)
Anyway, long story short, I used to be a bit of a Grinch. I used to be a bit of a smug dick at family Christmas gatherings.
But then I changed.
I was visited by the ghost of Christmas past who wanted me to donate to a children’s orphanage or something. I don’t know. I was a bit drunk.
No, it was more that I started to wonder about my own biases against Christmas and the whole she-bang. I mean, a lot of people seem to have a really lovely time at Christmas. A lot of people don’t end up grumbling into their whiskey about their stupid family and stupid hats.
And when I stopped and thought about it, yes, Christmas could be seen as another franchise of empire.inc. It could be just another way that global elites found to put a boot on the neck of humble and peaceful peasants, and bend them to their evil will.
I could put that spin on it.
But I could also say that for a time in human history, war was a part of life. Violent death was as common as speeding tickets. Peace on earth was nothing but a dream.
But then perhaps some visionaries had an idea. We needed something that we could believe in – something that could help us transcend our tribal identities, and bind us together.
If we could do this, perhaps we could create great blocks of peace. If you could get the European continent to focus on what united them rather than divided them, perhaps then, as the centuries rolled on, humans might gravitate to peace.
And if the short-term price of that was co-opting a few local customs (and destroying a handful of nations), well, perhaps that was a small price to pay.
And perhaps the teachings of Jesus – with an emphasis on love, our commonalities, and peace – was exactly what the world needed.
Now, I don’t know the truth of it. Nobody does. Maybe the illuminati space lizards had a hand in this. Who knows?
All I realised was that I didn’t know. I was as ignorant as the next bon-bon jerker.
But I had chosen to believe a particular story, for whatever reason, and that story meant that I was having a miserable time at what should be one of the happiest times of the year.
I had chosen intellectual pride over happiness.
(Ironically, so stupid.)
And so I don’t know what Christmas is about. And I don’t care. All I know is that this week, in the here and now, I will have an opportunity to connect with my loved ones, connect with the heart of my faith, and be grateful for all the blessings I have been given.
So thank you space lizards.
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Looking forward to more adventures in prosperity next year!