We are knee deep into the holiday season, the time for company and office parties and general wassailing. I don’t remember too many office parties I have attended in the past (who does?), but I vividly recall the most recent gathering. Among the attendees were nine grownups, six children and one large boxer about 9 years old.
Six children, you say? Yes, ranging in age from eight months to 12 years, and they were the best behaved children I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with at a party. I fell in love with 8-month-old Pablo, a beautiful round-eyed, alert little boy who never once cried or was peevish. Of course, he was being held by his young mother most of the time. At times she held his hands as he stood on the floor where, although he couldn’t yet walk, could dance joyously. Her two other children Dylan and Trinity, sat quietly or daintily helped themselves to the delicious snacks.
Another child, 3-year-old Aaron, must be a dog whisperer because the boxer was a pussy cat the minute Aaron said something. Actually, the boxer was as good as the children. Most of the adults sat at the dining table chatting, but I liked my spot on the sofa watching the children and observing. After two hours of politeness and eating the chili and chicken prepared by the hostess, the children were allowed out in the carport and that is when one could hear the screams and laughter and running that is customary. I was impressed.
It is hard to remain a great fan of the Christmas season because it seems more about shopping and bargains than remembering. Maybe if the phrase were “Joyful Christmas,” or “Happy Christmas,” instead of “Merry Christmas,” there would be less wassailing and more thought about the meaning of Christmas.
Or maybe if the idea of gift giving would be celebrated on Jan. 6 as it used to be (and maybe still is) in many countries, we would not have the real meaning of Christmas overshadowed by the concept of shop until you drop, or if you happen to be a clerk in one of the stores, work until you collapse.
Today Christmas is seen as a time of increased shopping and profit and loss. But that is the way of the world, as the song in “Cabaret” goes, “Money makes the world go round.”
Money not only talks, in some countries it votes, and, given the growing hackability of credit cards, and the increase in pollution, thanks to plastics, money is about the cleanest thing we have in this world. At least it should be. So many people and institutions are laundering it.
But back to Christmas. Of course, making The Three Kings Day the time of gift giving only prolongs the season, and probably the shopping. We must not forget that there are the returned gift days. There may be fewer people rushing to return gifts this year because re-gifting is now socially acceptable This means that you don’t have to return the gift you didn’t want or like, you simply give it to someone else next Christmas or whenever. There are even national re-gifting days in some countries. Of course, they usually fall in December, which adds to the stress. Once again, money comes to the rescue. It is seldom regifted.
And finally, there is the Christmas tree. It is displayed more widely as a symbol of Christmas than the baby Jesus, or a manger. How did that happen? Christ was not born under a fir tree, nor were there any in the manger where he was born.
Actually, it is a nice combination of paganism and Christianity. Trees were worshipped by some pagan religions, and trees that remained green all year long were particularly highly regarded because they reminded people that there would be a spring when nature would produce sustenance again. Pagans displayed wreaths and boughs of greenery in December during the Winter Solstice. According to legend, myth, or history (take your pick), the Christmas tree originated in Germany in the 15th or 16th century.
I imagine Pablo would make an adorable Baby Jesus. Although he would not be lying in a manger, he would be happily dancing around a Christmas tree, holding tightly to his mother’s hands.