As I write this, Advent is 10 days away.
It’s not even Thanksgiving, which is now a week away. But the stores were decking the halls before Hallowe’en, and so were some of our neighbours, rather to my surprise. The Hallmark Channel––which ran out of gas and ideas years ago and now only recycles the same three movie plotlines over and over––began its annual, obligatory cycle of running Christmas treacle ad nauseam a month ago. That awful Charlotte radio station is already blasting us with nominally Christmas-related musical dreck, and it will continue to brainlessly bang that little drummer boy’s bongo up until Christmas Day and then abruptly return to its regularly-scheduled anti-music the day after. (By the by, Katherine Davis’s song, written eight decades ago, is actually a lovely, little thing as performed by the Harry Simeone Chorale, some 60 years ago.) Similarly, McAdenville––Christmastown, USA––rushes things and turns off its famous lights after Dec. 26, actually at the very beginning, not the end, of the season. Elsewhere, downtown Mount Holly put up its decidedly secular Christmas tree some days ago. And on and on.
But Christmas proper is nowhere in sight. Not even close. Autumn leaves are still falling from the trees that line our cul-de-sac, and despite frosty mornings, afternoon temperatures are still pleasant. If you want snow, check out Minnesota.
When does Christmas begin? Why, Christmas Day, of course. Yet for the morons and money-worshippers of Mammon and Madison Avenue, Christmas might as well begin some time in October. They want to condition you to feel the same way, and this push has been racheted up every year since the 1970’s, by my observation.
Why? Because they want you to buy more stuff. And sooner. They’ve divorced the “Christ” and “Mass” in “Christmas,” and in recent years replaced the word completely with the amorphous catch-all of “holidays.” That’s not technically incorrect, of course. Christmastide is comprised of the holiest of holy days. But it ties in neatly with the secularists’ push to get rid of Christ in every element of public life. It’s a thing so obvious, a blind man could see it. Only obnoxious, Christophobic jerks ever deny the objective truth of this.
Time was, people understood their seasons better, knowing their beginnings and endings; understanding implicitly what was appropriate and what wasn’t. My late father well recalled how, throughout the 1930’s, he tagged along after his elder brothers, going out into the woods behind their farmhouse to cut down an evergreen. The tree would be cut, dragged home through the snow and decorated, all on Christmas Eve.
And back then, of course, there were hardly any cars on those two-lane local roads. My late uncle (something of a daredevil) could ride his motorcycle, exceeding 100 miles an hour, all the way to the sleepy fishing village of Myrtle Beach, returning here quite quickly and meeting hardly anyone at all on the road, all in a few short hours. That dearth of cars and traffic meant far less global warming and manmade climate change, hence, as Dad fondly recalled, there really were several white Christmases hereabouts during the Depression. As it was for countless people, making it the most popular song ever recorded, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” as sung by Bing Crosby, was Dad’s favourite song.
British authoress Susan Cooper, one of my very favourite novelists, recalled similar memories from decades ago in her books. In one, Cooper tells of a family cutting a tree in an English wood and dragging it homeward through some inches of snow, as well as buying presents and decorating their big, rambling farmhouse––all on Christmas Eve.
These days, alas, the world of commerce tries to place everything on a hyperactive, heedless, fast-forward focus. Its dark denizens care nothing about Christian life and its concomitant traditions, and they really wish you wouldn’t either.
What are the roots of this nonsense? Blame Cromwell. The original Grinch, burning in Hell since 1658, along with his Pecksniffian Puritan pals, banned Christmas wherever they could in England for more than a decade. The Puritans who settled New England, seeking a place safe for a more repressive warping of Christianity than was then possible in the Motherland, did the same thing for half the 17th century. They decried Christmas as at once somehow too pagan and too Catholic, and so it had to go. Very oddly, this antipathy toward Christmas continued throughout New England for nearly 200 years.
Talking of Odious Ollie, you can also blame him for taking away most of our holidays. Prior to Cromwell, most people spent half the year doing nothing. Between November and April, nothing would grow in Northern Europe anyway, so folks were idle: feasting, drinking beer and making babies. Factor in Christmas lasting 12 days, until Epiphany or Twelfth Night (as in “The Twelve Days of Christmas”), commemorating the visitation to the Holy Family by the Three Kings; and really, the actual entire period of Christmastide lasting a full 40 days, up until the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (also Groundhog Day, Feb. 2); and this followed by the season of Carnival, culminating in Fat Tuesday; and all the other myriad holidays Cromwell crushed, and our ancestors really didn’t do a bloody thing for half the year.
“Hmmm,” said Cromwell, probably talking with his best friend, Satan himself. “England needs to be more productive.”
And so it became. By removing all those pesky papist holidays, within a few short years, Protestant England became exponentially more productive than its Catholic counterparts on the Continent. That’s where that much-ballyhooed “Protestant work ethic” comes from: a bunch of automatonic, anti-Christian killjoys who erected false gods out of grinding labour and mindless work for its own sake. Puritans worshipped money and material richesse, and we live with their destructive legacy to this day. The logical extension is the 24-seven, always-open world of unending work, wherein Sundays become workdays for countless people, and even Christmas and Easter find convenience stores and their like open for business as usual.
Life is a dance
For the Puritan, life is a race: a linear thing with a finish line at the end. Better grab that brass ring now. If God really loves you, He will bless you materially. Got a big house and a fancy car and a trophy wife and 2.5 kids running round a kitchen big enough to land a ’plane in? Well, bless your heart, honey. You’re blessed!
Yessiree, all aboard that Prosperity Gospel Express, with your conductor, Joel Osteen! Handling your baggage will be Mr. Fur Tick. (Good grief, there’s a Dickensian name, like something straight out of A Christmas Carol. What an appropriate name for a parasite.)
How toxic! How obnoxious. How anti-Christian these wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing really are, along with their poisonous ethos. And the same is true of their corporate friends, all of whom want to sell you on what is really a soulless, godless future.
No, life is not a race. As G.K. Chesterton, the great English Catholic apologist put it not a century ago, life is a dance: a cycle of unending, divine recapitulation; a thing of repeated patterns performed year after year. It’s a sequence of traditions we return to, again and again.
The Church’s liturgical year is like that. It begins with the birth of Christ. Christmas lasts from Christmas Day through the month of January, ending Feb. 2. Its climax is Easter: the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. After Eastertide comes the long season of Pentecost. And finally it starts all over again at Advent.
The Nativity of Christ––God made Man, come into the world to dwell amongst us––is what we celebrate at Christmas; truly Christ’s Mass. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus form the central pivot of human history, upon which absolutely everything turns.
This year, if someone asks you, “How was your Christmas?” on Dec. 26, you can say, in the present tense:
“We’re enjoying it immensely. Hope you are as well!”
And if they don’t get it, tell ’em to take a hike.
---The views and opinions expressed in “A Conservative Point of View” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Lincoln Herald.
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