Why I hate Christmas
December 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
I don’t really hate it, not on hindsight.
The title is inspired by the movie Noel, in which Rose has to explain why she hates Christmas to get a Christmas tree. I’m not sure how appropriate the gift is if you hate Christmas, but ok that’s besides the point. She goes up and tells the story of how she bore and lost her child on Christmas Day. A tangible silence reigns in the room.
It is Christmas today, and the headlines scream death and disaster. There’re attacks in churches, and bomb blasts at a place where food is rationed to the needy.
At home, my parents fight over money.
I intended to read a book on Jesus for Christmas, but it lies unread on the coffee table, over which voices are thrown across like knives. Instead, I stay in my room surfing mindlessly on the internet, the closed door my shield. I can’t bring myself to read it for now. The image of reading about humility and love against a backdrop of strife and death strikes me as quite unpalatable, even though the parts of the book I read so far came across as really insightful.
I’m in no mood to be kind or friendly. I don’t even pray much. The world is both good and horrible and today is one of the more horrible ones.
But now that I’ve calmed down slightly I remember a talk Brother Jude gave in which he reminded us that it is amidst this that Christ is born. He was born into a world where there was no room for Him at the inn. Likewise today, there doesn’t seem to be room for him in the hearts of many. He was born into a world where there were plots to kill him, which may be paralleled to the attacks against the Church today, or any other conflict in general. The day He was born, it was not jingle bells. Jesus’s birth didn’t seem to solve all our problems as we define it; it didn’t even seem so for the holy family:
Now when they (the Magi) had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord ap- peared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the Child, to destroy Him." And he rose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son." (Matthew 2:13-15)
Nothing much seems to have changed today. Christmas is not only a day of people caroling, riding through the snow and opening gifts under the Christmas tree. It is a day where tired, hungry and lonely people wander the streets. It is a day like any other day. If anything, Christmas is more miserable than any other day because it is ‘supposed’ to be a happy occasion.
What makes Christmas special then? The answer, as we have seen, lies not so much in the fact that many receive presents and sing Christmas songs. For not all of us do. Millions instead lead lives where caroling and receiving presents seem much rather a foreign concept, or something that happens only in the feel-good-kinda-movies.
Since Christ was born to save the world, his birth must have significance for everyone. And I think the significance is this– that no matter how horrible one’s Christmas day was, how similar to any other horrible day one has if one has a miserable life in general, Jesus has nevertheless found a way to enter our pain and sorrows and turn it to joy. The world is indeed filled with suffering, yet even while admitting that, Christmas can be a day to take joy in the seemingly little yet important things, as Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, wise men and all in heaven broke into joyous praise at the birth of a little one.