I like this time of year; the winding down towards Christmas and a well-earned break for those of us who work for a living. The chance to spend time with family and friends far away; mostly family.
Everything seems to slow down gradually, much to the indignation of demanding bosses who have projects to complete; but they gradually get into the spirit as well. Not so for retail businessmen; they become busy little bees, and will sting you with their prices if you’re too much in the spirit, or if you’re too much into the spirits, as the case may be. And except around shopping malls, even traffic becomes easier. What a joy to drive to work and back, this time of year.
However, even crass commercialization has some appeal; a visual feast for the senses with christmas decorations nearly everywhere, feel-good christmassy music coming from shops and malls, fake fir trees in windows and aisles, multi-coloured lights flashing, and most importantly, people seeming more cheerful than at any other time of year. And what about the kids? They tend to become more manageable, although a slightly heavier burden on the wallet.
For us non-believers, all this hoo-ha over what was once a pagan festival, is supposed to be exasperating, but I find it all rather charming; amusing perhaps. I really enjoy the christmas carols, even if the words have no appeal or meaning for me. However, like most normal people, I do find Boney M slightly annoying, but Andrea Bocelli or Frank Sinatra singing carols, is a real delight for the senses.
And somehow, people become more generous too at this time of year. Those beggars standing at the traffic intersections usually get something extra, and even other less fortunate adults and children from miscellaneous charitable organizations, benefit. A real pity that Christmas doesn’t come at least once a month. Imagine how different the world could be, if Christmas was about people, rather than gods.
It’s really convenient for us all that the early Christians chose to commemorate Christmas around the time of the winter solstice, incorporating it with pagan festivals such as the Celtic Yule, the Roman Saturnalia and the solstice feast of Mithras, the Roman god of light which falls on 25 December, just before New Year’s Eve, a traditional celebration for the Roman god, Janus. And not forgetting New Years Day, the traditional day for hang-overs. Yes, a wise decision to fit it in with happy, festive times.