Tonight is Christmas Eve. I look forward to the peace and inner joy I feel at the candlelight service. I am thankful for being able to attend one more time. I try to enjoy Christmas Present and recall as many pleasant memories as I can of Christmas Past. I am told it is not possible to change past events, but it is possible to change our perceptions of those events, changing our outlooks on histories which may not be pleasant, thus changing the neural memories and resulting feelings they evoke. I try more every day to live in the present so I allow Christmas Futures to remain in the future and I am unconcerned about them.
I look backward at the year and see all the ways that we turn our backs on the messages of Jesus and Buddha and all the other spiritual leaders who tell us very simple ways to behave towards each other. Yet, we all still go in ways that often are of most benefit to ourselves first. Yes, I am including myself in that group. I am not one to cast the first stone.
We don’t know exactly when Jesue was born or exactly where, according to the PBS special. The Christmas star that miraculously appeared is still of unknown origin and unknown date. It could have been something to do with Jupiter, or a comet or a supernova. We still don’t know for sure. It could be a concocted story to advance the plot. Who knows? It could have been as simple as a miracle. We are free to choose our own beliefs. We choose to honor His birth this evening because the newly forming church leaders several hundred years after His life knew that they could entice the most converts to Christianity by usurping the dates of Saturnalia. In the Julian calendar, December 25 was the date of the winter solstice. It was also the date, give or take a few days, of a great Roman P A R T EEEEEE!
People in Roman times threw parties, gave gifts, had feasts. Sound familiar? These event have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. 2009 rolls around. People all over the world throw parties, give gifts, and have feasts according to our bank accounts. Some years are more festive than others. Retailers, in their desperation to stay in business and make the biggest profit possible, try to lead us to believe that the season now begins before Halloween in October. I can remember being a little miffed when it started before Thanksgiving.
I was totally surprised when I went to Japan last month to see Christmas trees and Santas, and hear English Christmas songs resounding from the speakers in the “malls”. In Japan, a country in which the great majority of people who practice any religion at all are Shinto and Buddhist, Christmas has very little to do with Christ. Yet, according to Yoko, it is a holiday for children and young lovers. That sounds familiar also, especially if you believe in the ads for ToysRUs or the jewelry store where every kiss begins with KAY.
We seem to have been genetically programed to wish some happiness into our lives during the days of the longest nights and the shortest days. Perhaps we are still trying to ward off the thought that the sun will never return. It’s easiest to combine everything into one big festive occasion. Christians have their religious celebrations and try to get the world to recognize that only Christianity is “THE answer” and deserves the only attention during the entire two month Christmas period. Heaven help the merchant who reaches out to advertise any other religion’s holy day. Party animals just want to rack up as many parties and make notches on their expanding belts as a way to let off steam. Perfectionists nearly have nervous breakdowns preparing just the right meal, decorate just the right way, invite just the right people. They see this season as a time of enormous stress. Members of families with on-going feuds put on their best civilized expressions when they are surrounded by relatives they can’t stand and try to make it through the day. Or, they exclude themselves from the activities altogether. Either method of behavior often leads to a spike in the sale of Pepto-Bismol.
Humans are a fascinating bunch of creatures, don’t you think? All this commotion is to honor the Son of God, or to delude our children into sitting on a strange man’s lap, believing in this rotund fellow dressed in red velvet who at any other time of year would prompt us to call the police. Adults get joy from seeing the happiness of children who are lucky enough to be born into families who can afford gifts. They don’t take into accounts the millions of kids who weren’t so lucky. These kids hope Santa will come to their homes too.
Yet, we continue in this pattern of frenetic split personality behavior year after year. Why? I wish I knew the answer. I know that our traditions will continue until some governing body prohibits them. Then they will go underground until a time when it is safe for them to surface again. We will stop singing “O Holy Night” followed by “Here Comes Santa Claus”.
But there will be something inside most of us, except those pre-Christmas Day Scrooges and Grinches (or those who profit by the military industrial complex), who for a few moments will feel a desire for peace on Earth …who will desire good will towards men (and women also)…who will feel joy and a glimmer of hope in their hearts. Perhaps if we reallly truly start to listen to the teachings of Jesus and Buddha and all the others along the way who have tried to show us the path, just perhaps, it will be all worth it. What do you think? Merry Christmas y’all. And Grandma, watch out tonight for Santa’s reindeer. Stay off the egg nog. Namaste. Attic Annie