Because there is no such thing. Although Christmas is nominally ‘Christ’s Mass’, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is an entirely human construction and where there are humans there is always sweat, some tears and occasionally blood. We may distract ourselves from this unsavoury fact with glitter and gloss and the gift of giving, but underneath it all, somewhere, lies stress and teeth gnashing; if not for you, then definitely someone sitting not too far away…
I am not against having a holiday during the *darkest, shortest days of the year. I am not against bringing something of the outside in, and brightening a room with pretty lights. I am not, when push comes to shove entirely against the giving of presents, but as a pagan at heart I wonder if it is actually the Yule Festival I should really be celebrating.
This is the last year I am playing the Christmas game (and that is only because it is too late to get out of it now). From now on, the whole exercise will have a back to nature Yule theme and for that reason I am never again going to spend a day of my life staring at manufactured crap in overcrowded shops as the obligation to buy for people I feel I hardly know bears down upon my shoulders. For those of you I do know, and love, perhaps we can come to some Secret Holly King arrangement…
I am bowing out now because I am not good at it and it makes me uncomfortable. My children don’t believe in Father Christmas any more either, so at least some of the pretence/magic can be dropped with honour. It’s time to embrace wassailing and the battle of the Holly King and Oak King. It’s time to burn the Yule Log and not wrapping paper. It’s time to be and not do. You see, that’s why picture perfect Christmases drive me mad, because they shout, look, look what I can do. See how I can wrap beautifully (I can’t), see how I can pour the perfect drink (all my glasses are smashed). Look, look at my beautiful tree (the children decorated ours yesterday, imagine…), look, look at my Wonderful Life. This post is not jealousy, it is just that I know a lot of it is not all that it seems and I know what putting on a show can cost people. Of course, every life has its sadness and woes and there’s nothing wrong with just putting that all aside and enjoying the company of friends and family for a few days in the depths of winter; it’s just that I believe we don’t need the thick layers of artifice and rampant consumerism trowelled on top.
Having said all that I am a sucker for some glitter, all year round and although it’s beginning to look a lot like a non-picture perfect Christmas… it’s Yule – ok?
*In Australia this will make no sense.
I may have sunk to a new low. I am wearing a hat indoors. I habitually wear a coat indoors, after the autumn equinox, but today I answered the door to my neighbour in a hat. I have answered the door to her in a variety of coats over the years, but the sight of the hat caused gales of laughter at my expense. I had quite forgotten it was on my head, plus which it keeps me warm. I’ll be driving the car in it next.
I saw this tree trunk on an abbreviated dog walk earlier today. The dog would wear a hat if he could too – he hates the frost-bitten ground and Siberian chill factor. Whilst he was staring at something in the far-off beyond, I found a hat on the football pitch. It was not dissimilar to my own, apart from being frozen solid and flat. I could have used it as an offensive weapon. Instead I put it on the tree trunk and took this photo too.