Don’t you think it’s time to give the reboot treatment to Christmas?
When writers re-imagine a TV series, they generally take something that’s become familiar and stale, and return to its darker, but more meaningful roots. They pick out the fundamentals that matter to people, but they cut through the superficial nostalgia. And they create something which is familiar, but also exciting and new.
Christmas is to holiday festivals what the Batman or Star Trek series of the 60s are to their respective genres.
They have characters garbed in anachronistic dress. They take place in unconvincing locations. They’re full of “Pow!”, “Biff!”, “Oof!” and “Sock!” but with no real substance.
And Christmas is the same. Especially in 2015.
An international law this year has decreed that every works party had to feature people in Christmas jumpers depicting Rudolph or Santa or that flashed or glowed in the dark. About 65% of all Christmas cards this year featured Victorian people (on a coach, singing carols, roasting chestnuts on an open fire). And the Coca-Cola truck, Christmas-themed TV adverts, and “elves on the shelf” were the majority of people’s top three most important Christmas traditions.
When David “Starman” Bowie joined “Bing “the Croon” Crosby for The Little Drummer Boy on Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas on September 11, 1977, the writing was firmly on the wall.
The writing is now on Christmas “Round Robin” letters. Only it’s not even writing. It’s typing.
Christmas is over, people. Move along. Nothing to see here.
So what can we do? Well, we can’t rely on JJ Abrams to reboot it for us, so we’ll have to do it ourselves.
Christmas is based on the old pagan Germanic festival of Yule. The idea for the ignorant Northern Europeans was that the world was dying, so they carried out certain rituals to make sure it didn’t. Like bringing branches from evergreen trees into the house. And human sacrifice.
The Christmas tree idea has probably run out of steam. And the human sacrifice one is unlikely to make a comeback, even this year. But the concept is clear. The end of the year = the end of the world. We should be afraid. Very afraid. But we need to confront our fear, and we do that by trusting that the world will not end at the end of the year.
The Christian version is similar. “Do not be afraid” are the words that keep being repeated in the Bible story. (Although they don’t always make it into school nativity plays.) And then the Christian version takes it a step further: “peace be with you.”
I can live with that: “a big ‘no’ to fearfulness and a big ‘yes’ to peace.
Confront your fear. Accept the reality of death/change/the end of things. And be at peace.
That’s a starting point and after that, feel free to pray or hope for something better. Work towards that thing, whatever it is, for others first; for yourself second.
On the day itself, switch off all electronics. Visit someone. Share (a small amount) of the food and drink that you love the most with someone you don’t. Your loved ones are likely to be there already, so try to make it someone you normally shun.
Get some oxygen into your lungs.
It might be good to have a period of asceticism either immediately before or immediately after. You’ll feel better for it.
Traditions are good, so go and create a few of your own. A few things to bear in mind when you get creative:
1. Christmas is not for kids
The other 364 days – especially Hallowe’en – are for kids.
2. Christmas is not for families
Unless you really fear them. And you might, of course. Then the other rules apply.
3. Christmas is not for present-giving
If you exchange presents, that’s just barter. If anyone asks: “What do you want for Christmas?” you have to say “Peace”. You can improvise a bit: “World peace,” “Peace in our time,” “Peace, man.” All of these are acceptable.
If you ask anyone what they want for Christmas yourself, then you’ve failed. You’ve broken Christmas. (But you can try again next year.)
If you want to give a gift to someone, it should be well thought out and heartfelt. Something they will absolutely not expect, but which will absolutely take them by storm. If not, the best thing to give them is a peaceful day.
4. Christmas is not white.
Or red. It’s any colour you want it to be.
5. Christmas is not commercial
Come on! Resist! We’re talking about not giving into fear and being at peace here!
Ged Naughton is from working class Consett, in the north of England, and from an Irish Catholic background, which is a sure recipe for strongly held opinions. He has a Masters in Globalisation, Poverty and Development from Newcastle University and has mostly worked in overseas development. After Consett, his second homes are Spain and Liberia---in the sense of where he'd most like to be; not in the sense of a vast international property portfolio. Website: naughtonmedia.co.uk Twitter: @GedNaughton