I woke up this morning to a day which will be to me, very much like any other day at this stage of my life. Just me and the dogs hanging out as we do every day. The difference is, that to the rest of the Christian World, it is Christmas day, when according to the Bible, Jesus was born in a stable in a town called Bethlehem.
To many, this is a very sacred day celebrated in all kinds of different ways based on the particular brand of the religion and what country the celebrations are occuring. I live in the United States and before that grew up in England where I lived for thirty one years.
My English memories are what I like to believe, closer to the truth about the true meaning of Christmas at least to me and the family I had way back then, all of those years ago. We had gone through and were just recovering from the Second World War which in turn, had led to several inventions and modernizations to help make life better for the average family. Food, although still scarce was becoming more available. We did not eat turkey for Christmas Dinner because it was only for those that could afford it, what we referred to as the “Upper Class”. We killed a chicken from our yard and were very grateful for it, not so much for the chicken. We did not give each other expensive gifts but those that we had made ourselves and each was received with the graciousness they so richly deserved. As time went on, a lot of the old ways were disappearing and by the time we left to come to the States, material things were becoming important as the world began to become Americanized.
I am now almost eighty four years old and have spent fifty three years in this country and have watched as Christmas has turned into a celebration of gifts and possessions. Add to that the amount of food and drink that is consumed (and wasted) on this day and it would seem to me that instead of this being a simple celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, it has turned into an excuse to eat, drink and spend money on very expensive and many times, unwanted gifts.
If I sound a bit like an old Scrooge, that is maybe because in a way, I am. Giving expensive gifts does not necessarily make you a better person. Maybe, in your own mind, you are trying to make up for all of the things that you didn’t do through the year. Like you are appeasing your conscience and trying to make up for it with the gift.
I am not a particularly religious person although through my lifetime, I have dabbled with a couple of different kinds mainly to satisfy the person that I was married to at that time. I was raised as a Church of England Protestant and in my youth, actively practised religion. At one time, I dabbled in Catholicism again because my wife at that time was Catholic. But is was only a passing whim and when she quit going to Church, so did I.
Now, with no wives to push me in the right direction, I have chosen the route of non religion. I find it so hard to believe that with all of the suffering in the world, the general hate for persons of different religions and color, the wars, the famine’s and the natural disasters that there is a Divine Being that watches all of this going on and does not help to guide us in a different direction. If he or she, is waiting for mankind to save itself, then it will never happen. As a race, mankind is it’s own worst enemy and will not be satisfied until it has pushed the world to the point of extinction with global warming and only then, if it is not too late, will maybe change it’s ways and make the effort to save the world and the remaining inhabitants. Then, if I was around, would I begin to revive my faith and believe that maybe there is a God after all and that the Spirit of Christmas would rekindle mankind’s belief in himself.
I live in a Nation of greed and prejudice where the almighty dollar, to many, is the only religion. The top one percent own more than the combined assets of the remaining ninety nine percent and that is wrong. That coupled with a hate for Jews, Muslims and people of different ethnicity, race and color often times make it very hard to believe that there is a God and that any form of religion is going to change the way things have become. In all of my years on this earth for which I am very grateful, my best recollection of that time was when I was a young man living a simple life in England before the age of progress.
Alas, I can’t wind back the clock to those better and simpler times. Happy Holidays Everyone.
Written 12/25/2019 – Christmas Day.