THE HIDDEN CHRISTMAS
On My Way, God's Way, fr Peter Clarke OP has an excellent post called 'Mad Money', which discusses the need for Christians to be at least a little bit mad about their celebration of Christmas, and the tremendous gift which God gave us.
I entirely agree with him; but at the same time, his post gave me to think about the question of the commercialization of Christmas.
There's an old comment to the effect that the Devil's greatest achievement is to make people believe that he doesn't exist; and I wonder whether another of his great achievements is to make Christmas so much fun, and so busy and exciting, that people increasingly forget what it's all about.
When I was a child, Christmas was at least as wonderful, and exciting, and enchanting as it is today : but it was very obviously about Jesus Christ, and the gift of His coming. Yes, shops played Christmas music - admittedly only in December, not (as nowadays) from the middle of October - but it wasn't 'I wish it could be Christmas everyday', or 'Do they know it's Christmas ?' : it was carols like 'O Come, All Ye Faithful', or 'Hark ! the Herald Angels Sing', which spoke very clearly of the coming of Christ, and its purpose.
Similarly, the Christmas message - in the shape of Christmas services, 'meditations', and probably a Nativity story for children - was the most important thing (with the Queen's speech) on television on Christmas Day; everything else fitted round those. Nowadays, with I don't know how many channels (I no longer have a TV !), there seems to be less religion on television at Christmas than there was when we only had two.
Thinking about it, I have a horrible suspicion that Charles Dickens probably (and quite inadvertently) started it all off with 'A Christmas Carol', and the description of Christmas at Dingley Dell in 'Pickwick Papers', both of which, although wonderfully evocative of the delights of Christmas, more or less entirely exclude Jesus.
I don't quite know, yet, how I'm going to 'be a little mad' about the joy of the Incarnation on Christmas Day as fr Peter would (I think) have me be (apart from going to all three Masses, of course !); but I'm certainly going to try and find some way of showing that particular joy to a world which appears largely indifferent to it.
Suggestions will be welcomed !