Merry Christmas to all! I don’t think there are many people who genuinely resent my wish for happiness and community, however, all around the world there are people celebrating their own seasonal holidays that have little or nothing to do with Christmas. There are dozens if not hundreds of traditions near and far all packed tightly together thanks to the relative position of the tilt of Earth’s axis to the sun. I want to contemplate this fact for a moment. The seething mass of humanity has picked sometime between November and January to think about what is good in the world and about each other. It’s not enough to cancel all the wars and oppression in the world, but it’s a wondrous notion worthy of contemplation. It seems that given the hardness of people throughout much of the world so much of the time that taking even a day or a week to celebrate our commonality and good feelings can not go amiss.
It seems somehow terribly petty to limit this sentiment and joy to just Christians. Are we so small that we can’t wish goodness on others? Is there not enough goodness that we must horde it for ourselves? I reject the notion that we can’t include other people, other religions, other traditions in the spirit of the season. So happy holidays to everyone! From the entirety of my soul I wish you well. Even angry Christians, I wish you the best.
Yes, Christmas is undoubtedly of pagan origin. The Christians brutally wiped out the pagans and appropriated their holidays to make assimilation of whoever was left easier. The rise of Christian dominance in Europe and the Americas is a dark and miserable story. Certainly not one that I want to think about today. But I know that people are furious with the paganism of Christmas. They want to reclaim their spirituality in some way. But I have a better solution to fighting the ghosts of the past. Celebrate the divine in humanity. Do you think ancient druids did not love their children? You think the cults, and the devotees of forgotten gods, didn’t bring home toys to their kids? Husbands were passionately devoted to their wives. Families worked hard, celebrated moments of joy, mourned their losses. They built, laughed, loved, created, lost, mourned, looked to the future, complained about “kids these days” and how everything was going into a general state of decline, and how the new music styles were completely terrible. Teenagers made awkward small talk and complained about how lame their parents were, and yes they celebrated what was good in their lives, expressed their hope for the future, and had a day of fun simply for the sake of fun.
Do I know this for certain? absolutely. I’m positive that humanity hasn’t changed that much in a few thousand years. We even have scraps of ancient texts with “old man” complaints that haven’t changed substantially in two thousand years. We criminalize the ancient past, we refuse the basic humanity of each other, and we obsess over our own grievances.
In the best of the Christian tradition, let it go. Celebrate the fundamental qualities of christmas: Generosity and compassion. Seize and share the joy in the world that is all too rare for so many people. You can not serve the cause of evil by celebrating what is good in the world. You will not limit or “waste” good cheer by wishing it on others or limiting your respect to merely those with Christian traditions.