This Christ­mas thing has got out of hand

Fingal Independent - - OPINION - Fr Michael Com­mane

WILL I, won’t I? I’ve been ut­ter­ing these words to my­self over the last few days. And then in the mid­dle of my pro­cras­ti­na­tion I saw some­one re­fer­ring to the word in this man­ner: ‘Chr*s*m*s’. The jour­nal­ist was on a cam­paign not to men­tion the word Christ­mas dur­ing the month of Novem­ber. He was hav­ing great dif­fi­culty. I un­der­stand what he is say­ing, sym­pa­thise with him and wish him well.

This Christ­mas thing has got out of hand. Once Hal­loween is over and the pump­kins are cleared out of the shops all the Christ­mas tin­sel ap­pears. Surely it’s as clear as the noses on our faces that it is all about se­duc­ing cus­tomers to empty their pock­ets and hand over their money to re­tail­ers.

In sim­ple plain lan­guage Christ­mas has be­come one gi­gan­tic con job where we are all be­ing fooled to hand over our money for stuff we don’t want or need. Add Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day to the mix and you would not need to be too smart to re­alise the mad­ness that Christ­mas has be­come.

There is a num­ber of as­pects about the Christ­mas frenzy that makes it all so strange, crazy and yes, ironic. The fur­ther we move away from any ap­pre­ci­a­tion or be­lief sys­tem in the birth of Je­sus Christ, be­liev­ing that he is the Son of God, the more we seem to be se­duced by Christ­mas. How can that make sense? It prob­a­bly doesn’t and is another rea­son to re­alise how odd hu­man be­hav­iour can be.

I have a Mar­tyn Turner cal­en­dar hang­ing on my kitchen wall. For the month of Novem­ber, the car­toon­ist quotes two psy­chol­o­gists who have ob­served that we are all a mi­asma of bias and prej­u­dice that it is al­most im­pos­si­ble for any­one ac­tu­ally to de­clare a truth or have a gen­uine, ac­cu­rate mem­ory. Turner uses the idea to throw some light on the Trump phe­nom­e­non and how peo­ple can eas­ily be per­suaded to be­lieve in some­one or some­thing, ir­re­spec­tive of the per­son’s worth or the value of what is be­ing said.

But the quote set me think­ing about what sort of free­dom do we re­ally have. How easy it is to plant some idea into our heads and then we run with it as fast as we can. Have you ever been sim­ply gob­s­macked by crazy ideas you have heard from peo­ple? And so of­ten the more the per­son is so con­vinced in her/his opin­ion or be­lief, the zanier is the idea.

Most of us have been se­duced into be­liev­ing that in or­der to en­joy Christ­mas we have to buy X, Y and Z. We also have to go places and do things be­cause if we don’t we might be miss­ing out on some­thing. The pres­sure keeps mount­ing. It’s as mad as that. But it proves an amaz­ingly win­ning for­mula for peo­ple who are try­ing to di­vest us of our hard-earned money.

So now you might be say­ing that I re­mind you of Dick­ens’s Christ­mas Scrooge. Not at all. Christ­mas is a great time of year to re­mind our­selves of the ex­tra­or­di­nary be­lief in the in­car­na­tion, God be­com­ing hu­man. The be­lief that points to a res­ur­rec­tion, an af­ter-life, that has al­ready ten­u­ously be­gun, is in process and reaches a per­fec­tion be­yond our un­der­stand­ing in com­mu­nion with God.

Surely Ad­vent is a far finer lead up to Christ­mas than the hys­te­ria of Black Fri­day or Cy­ber Mon­day, all that fre­netic shop­ping and driv­ing into in­tol­er­a­ble traf­fic jams.

Peace be with you this Christ­mas sea­son.

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