It’s snowing outside and every body of water has frozen over; everyone is inside, round a fire and sipping hard drinks to keep warm; and the television keeps playing the same old films you’ve seen countless times before. If it were are any other time of the year, you’d think I was describing some apocalyptic drama. But there is something, some x factor which makes this scene the most wonderful time of the year.
Is it some magical force, say, the Spirit of Jesus, filling everyone (except for Muslims) with love, like some ethereal bottle of sherry being passed around by Cupid? Is it mindless consumerism, reminding us of our childhood glee at the receipt of gifts?
No, Yuletide cheer is not just for Christians, but not because it is capitalism on coke, rid of any soul.
Christmas is obviously not for Christians alone; you don’t have to hypocritically attend the Midnight Mass to feel the warm sense of community, peace and goodwill towards men. This is because gift-giving and caring for one’s neighbours is an ancient European practice anyway; we encouraged one another and protected social stability through the celebrating of Yuletide, getting over the hump of short winter days, the solstice marking the lengthening of days once more.
So, yes, my atheist friends, you naturally celebrate the turning of the seasons with your festive cheer, bless you!
But, you may ask, aren’t we just selfishly looking forward to our own presents, too much food and booze?
Of course, capitalism has a bad name when it comes to Christmas. Capitalism is selfish after all, so, when it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, the ‘word’ capitalism is like dropping garlic in the mulled wine. Images of Scrooge are immediately conjured, hoarding his pennies to watch the poor starve and rid the planet of a few more unproductive plebs. But, nothing could be further from the truth.
At Christmas time, people everywhere are out together, spending for others, trading with their fellow man, not intending to bolster the economy, but to show consideration for those dear to them and for those who would feel otherwise forgotten.
Nevertheless, it is true that Santa has been disfigured from the ideal of care to that of consumerism. We spend too much money, trying to recapture the joy of our sense of togetherness felt when the West had stronger communities. As a libertarian, I must declare, just as or more important than capitalism is communities in which those non-violent, charitable human interactions are celebrated by all. Without this, our accumulation of things is empty and so, we too are unfulfilled. Our hearts having been electing the lump of coal instead of the orange for too long.
So, this year, recapture the true spirit of Christmas – Yuletide cheer!
Give gifts, certainly, but show your remembrance of others with your time and energy, love and good deeds, and the renewal of relationships. Do something which will bring neighbours together and which will make the lonely feel well-considered and able to conquer the darkness which can overwhelm them in January. This is that need for music and laughter you feel as a warmth in your heart, my dear fellow-social animal.
Let it out, let it shine; be creative and make magical memories, as did our ancestors, the glow of which we can still see and feel. Truly, the happiest of holidays to you all!