Over the last few years I’ve been known as the Family Grinch. And being the Grinch is starting to become boring…but it’s not really the idea of Christmas that I dislike but it’s the pressure Christmas or should I say society in the third world places on individuals and families. Here in the Southern Hemisphere in New Zealand there is even more pressure, as well as spending $$$ on pressies and food most of us are preparing for our Summer holiday break. This is when schools close down for around six weeks, and many workplaces close up till at least after New Year’s Day, but with the school holidays many of us take a longer break, often heading away to family or a holiday destination. So on top of the usual Christmas stresses there are also looming work deadlines leading up to the holidays…bah humbug…can you hear the violin strings?
This year instead of heading back the family home for Christmas, family are coming to us. There is something to say about holding the steering wheel, and making Christmas how you envision it. Generally I resent the commercial side of Christmas due to excessive pressure and spending, despite the good vibe I get when I gift to others. But this year I’m not feeling as Grinch-like as normal. Maybe I’m just more organised or maybe I’m just to busy to ponder too deeply about this festive season cum commercial beast while planning how to seat 20 odd people in our shoebox abode and designing a menu to suit all tastes.
This year was New Zealand’s census year, with some statistics recently been released. One set of statistics was the ‘state’ of religion in New Zealand, with one commentator saying the decline in Christianity in particular makes New Zealand one of the largest secular countries in the world. Also due to immigration other religions such as Hinduism and Islam are growing.
This leads to the thought, ‘Should we even be celebrating Christmas or Easter if so little believe in the original meaning of these holidays?’ There’s no public holiday for other religions, should there be? Should we only be celebrating Christian holidays when it means little to many people apart from a holiday and get together with loved ones?
New Zealanders in general are apolitical with not many issues getting up our noses enough to storm the streets in protest with many protests being small in number, except for a few exceptions, including the Springbok Tour in 1981 when New Zealand was split in half, with many New Zealanders protesting against apartheid and the other half saying sport and politics shouldn’t mix and turning up to the rugby games! Other large protests have mostly been for Maori indigenous rights. But if our Christian-based holidays were to be removed as some commentators have suggested would New Zealanders walk the street in protest? Would we be arguing against losing a holiday or arguing the loss of celebrating the original meaning of the day within a day off? How much meaning does Christmas have with those that are secular? And in reality what politician or political party wants to go down history as the ultimate Grinch?
So what does Christmas mean to me? Spiritually I’m not sure. But take away the commercial aspect of Christmas and I can enjoy the day. A day like Christmas gives many the opportunity to have time out with family and friends instead of running for the bus or tooting your horn in road rage on the way to work. It means having a meal together, groaning at Christmas cracker jokes and if you’re inclined and the sun is shining head to the beach, river or lake.
So next year will I be skulking in a tent somewhere on Christmas Day far far away….as I threaten and fantasize each year with Grinch-like behaviour as the Festive Season creeps up or will I make the time to be with loved ones? For what’s one day to share food, love and companionship with those you love (well most the time) and those who love you and who put up with your raves and idiosyncrasies?
So what element makes a difference in one’s life? It’s the people, it’s the people, it’s the people, isn’t it?
Peace to all.
What does Christmas mean to you and how did you celebrate it this year?