By Craig Funston
(I thought I would take a brief break from the Ten Commandments, and work in a couple of seasonal columns. After all, who can resist the rich theme of the birth of Christ and the hope and motivation it gives a new year?)
I don’t look forward to Christmas like I once did, for a variety of reasons. Public admission of private matters is not kosher, in my books, And I’ll leave it at that.
I will say, though, that I see and hear so many wonderful things at this time of year, and that makes me feel really hopeful. Despite the unbridled consumerism of the season, Christmas seems to give people a reason to go that extra mile of warm greetings, good will, and renewed relationships.
Kids can be extra nice at this time of year there, too, and if there’s was a Santa around, I get a little wary of what’s behind that pleasant behaviour.
Speaking of being nice at this time of year: I wouldn’t go so far as to say nice things about any leftist provincial government—not even if there was a Santa in the room. I don’t believe in either, so would that be a no-no, right? There’s being nice, then there’s being misleading, and I draw the line somewhere in between.
I googled the word “home” for this column (yes, I do that sometimes), and I was amazed to see how many links there are between “home” and “Christmas” in a range of Christmas songs. And that’s only in the title. If I made the effort to scroll down to the lyrics, I know there would be even more “home” references.
Home and Christmas. What is so special about being home with your family at Christmas, especially if you live elsewhere? I don’t really know, of course, because I live at home all the time. I did spend a year teaching school in El Salvador almost decades ago, and it was tough being away during this season. Spending Christmas under a banana tree in 35-degree weather doesn’t quite cut it.
But beyond the weather anomaly, I was missing the parents and family, friends and relatives, as well as the snow, such as it is, in greater Vancouver, BC.
Christmas is far more than trees and tinsel, trimmings and turkey, and all the bells and baubles , associated with the season. There’s a place for some of those things, I suppose, but I think we can all agree that Christmas boils down to family.
Believe me, I am fully aware of the historical and biblical basis for Christmas, and I buy into it big time. However, for the most part, we’ve lost most of our historical and biblical moorings, and so we’re losing that perspective.
But in the main, Christmas is about family and re-connecting with them. Even as the notion of “family” is changing, yet there’s still some connection.
However, I know a lot of families personally that have been fractured this past year, and for them it’s going to be very tough Christmas. I think of marriages that have gone south, of a husband who was killed by a drunk driver, or of wayward kids who have gotten lost, as they searched for themselves.
As I write this, a friend of mine is languishing in an area hospital, dying of cancer. He may not even make it till Christmas, and that will be really hard for his his family. It’s rough any time, but it always seems more so at this time of year.
Or maybe the family is still intact (ie., no death), but changes are coming: health, finances, employment, or even one’s outlook. Life raises its clenched fist and may land a punch to the gut or a cuff to the head. Not only do things like that hurt, but often they blindside us.
Then beyond that, there’s the unknown. At this time of year plans get shattered or turned on their head, and bit by bit, blow by blow, they’ve disappeared completely or have morphed into something else—a very ugly “else.” It’s hard to celebrate the season with so much uncertainty in the air.
So, in the meantime, Merry Christmas from our house to yours. Cherish your family one more time…hopefully not for one last time.