Tuesday, 24 November 2020

The Fetishism of Christmas

Do you remember back to those heady days in July when Covid infection rates were falling? What days they were. Toby Young was claiming the epidemic was over, as if it had just happened magically and not due to a lockdown. This was before he had to fall back to "it's no worse than flu" type posturing, backed up bad bad arithmetic. Boris Johnson took credit for "getting deaths down", and said we should be back to "significant normality" by Christmas. 

Well, I guess maybe a Boris Johnson family Christmas - with members of the family in different houses and nobody quite sure if anyone's going to see their dad.  But it's all about Christmas now, isn't it? The annual debate over "Fairy tale of New York" has started. Earlier every year. And the newspapers are speculating over what kind of Christmas will be allowed. Amid concerns that a "normal" Christmas will be out.

I guess it depends what kind of Christmas you think is out. Snogging the weird bloke in Accounts at the office party, for instance, a major part of some people's Christmas - that's a no-no. Pubs heaving with people who believe in no religion but are just glad of ten days off work - out. Packed Christingle services - no to them as well. Albeit you'd have to wonder whether the dangers of catching Covid outweigh the ever-present ones of spontaneous combustion.

The bit of Christmas Matt Hancock wants to preserve is where people see “some of their loved ones, but still keep the virus under control”. Which is a bit like expecting to leave the EU and simultaneously keep all the trade benefits. And who would believe in that? If you see more loved ones, you will have less control over the virus. It's pretty simple. 

I heard a chap on the radio saying he remembered the good old days when he was a child. When on Christmas Day his family would sit up late, playing cards for two pence stakes with his nan and grandad. And he wants the same experience for his kids. It's a lovely thought - I did the same as a child. Not with this bloke's nan and grandad, that would be weird. With my own. But what I would say is this. If you can make a sacrifice this Christmas then maybe playing cards with their grandad won't be a one-off. Why would you prioritise your own nostalgia over the safety of your father?

And then - for many people, isn't this Christmas just a fetish? When the reality is gran being sick on the couch after a forty-third Creme de Menthe, and the brother-in-law sulking because you forgot his other kid, and a friendly game of darts turning into a war zone and Monopoly boards flying through the air, while outside under a carolling sky the teenagers are setting fire to a car. Or was that just my childhood Christmases? The reality of a "normal" Christmas is hell for probably a third of the population. Maybe instead of worrying about the nostalgia-merchants we should be concerned for the ones that will be genuinely lonely and need support - a wave through the window, a chat from the other end of the garden path or, go on you techno-freak you - maybe a chat on Facetime (other methods of talking to people are available).

And then a Twitter lawyer suggested moving Christmas to February and all hell broke loose as Christians explained you can feel free to move getting together with Granny, but Christmas is still going to be 9 months after the Annunciation. While the sceptical people who aren't as sceptical as they really ought to be  - because they've accepted an unproven theory as unGospel truth - declared Christmas is really a Christianisation of Yule, Saturnalia, the feast of Sol Invictus, Mithras's Birthday, for all I know, probably the Day Isis got a Nosebleed, and Children in Need as well. It can't be all of those things. And there's no proof - proper proof, not hyopotheses, passed-on "facts" or supposition  - of any of these things. 

So it turns out the "Christmas is really Pagan" season has started early as well.

So enough's enough. The bling is going up tonight. This year, in keeping with the extended season of Lent we entered in March, we'd decorating the Moot House with illuminated pumpkins, gravestones and skulls. Remember you are dust, for to dust you will return.

I've got that right, haven't I? Or am I just celebrating Ash Wednesday at the wrong time as well?

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1 comment :

  1. For us Christmas will be the two of us, in our bubble, because our Daughter in Law is very clinically vulnerable, which means she is still sheltering, along with her Parents, once who has dementia and the other with heart problems. And our Grandchildren in late teens and early twenties are working in the NHS away from home or are still students and sheltering in college because the trip home is a bit risky (to say the least). We will drop of cards for friends and family via their letterbox or sending e cards to church friends. As proper cards are probably a bit risky for people in Church, as you don't really know who has touched them or whether they carry infection.

    Church will be open and we, suitably covid19 secure, masked, sanitized and socially distanced will admit the maximum of 40 safely, the rest will have to stand outside the open doors, suitably socially distanced hoping to catch the sights and sounds from the loudspeaker and screen sited outside the church. Yes we will have five days to bubble up with three other households, but as we are both in the vulnerable category our personal risk assessment means simply two together at Christmas and the risky stuff the media and scientists is describing will pass us by, thankfully.


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