If you came here looking for Musical Sunday, come back again in two weeks ... today is the day for Bilbo's Traditional Christmas Post.
Today is Christmas Day, the day on which Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whose lessons and example many of them find great in theory but decline to follow in practice. Beyond the Christian world, it is a season for general good cheer, the exchange of gifts, and a month of uplifting and sentimental television shows which temporarily replace the sex, violence, and cynicism of the rest of the year.
We’ve long bemoaned the commercialization of Christmas, in which the purchase and exchange of gifts has replaced thoughtful contemplation and love of family. But now, Christmas has been politicized as well. Conservative shouting heads complain about a “war on Christmas,” and both Christians and non-Christians complain about discrimination because they don’t want to have to accommodate religious ideas and traditions which are not their own. Angry idiots object to hearing a generic “Happy Holidays” instead of "Merry Christmas," "Happy Hanukkah," "Happy Solstice," "Happy Kwanzaa," "Happy Festivus," or other seasonal holiday of choice. Nuisance lawsuits force towns and cities to remove nativity displays from public places. Scrooge lives on.
2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Whatever happened to the part about “peace on earth and goodwill toward men*?” It seems to have been replaced by “peace on earth, goodwill only to those who agree with me, and the rest of you can go to Hell.” It’s been replaced by rigid intolerance and stiff-necked self-righteousness that belie both the spirit of the season and the values and teachings of the person whose birth is being celebrated.
Nevertheless, for those willing to put aside their cultural tunnel vision and their petty carping and hatreds, the Christmas season offers a time for joy and renewal, regardless of the religious tradition they profess to follow. It’s a season in which men (okay, persons) of goodwill can come together and treat each other like real human beings rather than like despised “others” … if, of course, they’re willing to bend enough to do so.
And it is, above all, a season for children, who have not yet been spoiled by the cynicism and hatred they’ll learn all too soon. The look on a child’s face on Christmas morning is a wonderful thing, and it reminds us that there is still joy to be found in life, if only we can get past the greed, selfishness, and political chicanery.
And so, Dear Readers, Agnes and I and our extended family wish all of you a very joyous Christmas and a safe, happy, and healthy new year. Blog on!
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.
* Okay, “persons.” Don’t get your holiday knickers in a twist.