TUMBY BAY - As I write this, we’ve well and truly entered the dead zone of the Christmas-New Year holidays.
The world’s problems haven’t gone away but this is a time of maximum ignorance and indulgence.
A time of the year when we ignore our dire existence on the planet and revel in the inane commercialism that annually accompanies this holiday break.
A time when we indulge in an orgy of overeating, drinking and maniacal shopping for junk that will probably be discarded in the early months of next year.
We’ll literally spend billions of dollars and quickly look away from media reports of starvation in the horn of Africa and that insane war in Eastern Europe.
Excuse my negativity but I’ve come to dread this time of the year.
For me it encapsulates the sorry state in which humanity finds itself in this late stage of capitalism when anything and everything has been commodified in the pursuit of profit.
And excuse me for trotting out the old line about being old enough to remember when it wasn’t like this at all.
Once upon a time Christmas and New Year were about catching up with family and celebrating all the good things in life that didn’t require dollars to purchase.
It was a time of giving, not just of presents but of love and care.
More often than not that care extended beyond our immediate families and was bestowed upon friends and neighbours and even to others we thought needed a little joy in their lives.
It was also a time of setting aside petty squabbles and embracing a brand new year free of animosity and argument.
For some of us it was a time of celebrating human goodness, whether in the form of religious belief or simple moral persuasion.
Except for very young children, we all knew that Santa Claus was a fraud and many of us also knew that Jesus, whose birth Christmas purports to celebrate, was a simple man of good mien whose life had been turned into a supernatural myth.
Yet we went along with it because of the joy it brought to children and adults the world over.
It was a time of redemption, perhaps best personified by Charles Dickens in his 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, which recounts the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, a cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas, into a decent human being.
For a long time Dicken’s story of Scrooge was the defining tale of Christmas in the English-speaking world.
Christmas is now primarily inhabited by unredeemed Scrooges intent upon making a dollar out of a gullible population that has bought their cry of eat, eat and spend, spend to be happy.
What good is goodwill, say the Scrooges, if it can’t be monetised?
For me Christmas and New Year is now a time to hunker down until all the silliness and depravity has abated, hopefully by the end of January.
In the meantime don’t eat too much, don’t spend too much, especially of you can’t afford it, and perhaps, if you feel inclined, reach out a hand to those around you who are having a hard time of it.
Do that and you might just experience what Christmas is supposed to be all about.