Merry-Grinchy-Cheery-Pensive Christmas

Here's columnist Ev Bishop's take on the holiday season

It’s a weird Christmas for me. As ever during the holiday season, visions of family—those present, those not—dance in my head. I don’t think I’m the only one this time of year who wavers between an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude for all I am blessed with and a touch of sadness and melancholy—for people I miss, for people who suffer, for questions about hard things that don’t have easy answers.

One hand, I adore every poignant, sentimental, lovely, much-romanticized moment of Christmas. I love the fun of presents, cookies, Christmas carols and twinkling lights, of being surrounded by family and friends, of playing games, eating treats, and being cosy and warm during dark, cold December nights.

But on the other hand? Cut that sickening sugar-punch with a cup of jaded cynicism, will ya?

Sometimes, especially when subjected to TV commercials and radio ads, I feel the whole season’s a gimmick, a marketing ploy of our consumerist culture, just one more way to convince us we need more or somehow “deserve” more, so we’ll buy, buy, buy and indulge to the point of gluttony in pretty much every way possible.

I’m a Christian, which to me means, among other things, that I try (and often, admittedly, sadly, fail) to follow the tenets of Christ. Some who share my faith would say, “Jesus is the reason for the season, Ev. Buck up!” But I feel a little unsure. I think Jesus would throw his hands up in rage at some of the atrocious, stomach turning greed advocated this time of year in His name—and I believe He weeps at the disparity between the haves and have-nots of our world, in terms of material needs, yes, but also regarding physical and emotional needs.

But then again (pipes up my internal voice of opposition once more—the ever optimistic squeak trying to squash the dark whisperer), Jesus is the reason for the season—or, for people who don’t identify with Him—things He valued are. Don’t we all try to be kinder to others this time of year? A little more forgiving? Don’t we practise generosity and strive to be gentler? Don’t most of us spend time taking stock of all the good things in our lives and expressing gratitude? Don’t we sing about, pray about, desire peace and try to spread a bit of it around? I think so. I hope so. I know so.

So who am I, Scrooge or Mrs. Claus? The Sugar Plum fairy or the Grinch? I can’t decide. Maybe I’m Mrs Claus with green-grinchy feet, sporting Scrooge’s Victorian hat and beautiful, sparkly wings. I kind of like that image, actually. And maybe it doesn’t matter. To be conflicted is to be human, right? We see light in the context of darkness and shadow. Recognize bitter only as a contrast to sweet. Feel happiness if we have also felt sad. Know best how to comfort when we are familiar with needing to be comforted.

Perhaps these are strange thoughts to admit to at this time of year, but it’s what my head does. And I do wish you a wonderful holiday, filled with love and fun, cheer and thankfulness—and if, like me, you’re occasionally nagged by less than merry ponderings—well, I raise a cup to them, too.

May the people in your life be kind this upcoming year—and you to them. Merry Christmas!

 

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