Monday, December 27, 2010

Bah, Humbug.

Christmas Wedding Table Flower Arrangment
Champagne and chardonnay - poured. Handel's Messiah - sung along to. Wonderful Christmas wedding table decor - adopted, beauty given more mileage. SMS-ed Christmas greeting spam - received. A few choice carols - butchered by increasingly groggy carollers. Turkeys from faraway lands - marinated, roasted, carved, eaten with gravy and stuffing and cranberry sauce. Friends (new and old) - hugged remotely. All manner of liquid concoctions - concocted and drunk to colourful simultaneous reviews. Gifts - exchanged, received, given. A Charlie Brown Christmas - junked for Mirrormask because Dave McKean = treat. Hot mincepies washed down with fruity TWG's Miraculous Mandarin tea - during The Queen's Christmas Broadcast 2010. Omaha Collective's EP - grooved to. Cathartic jamming - greatly enjoyed. Morning-after turkey porridge - supped with joy.

TWG Miraculous Mandarin Tea
One is hardput to ignore the advent of Christmas: seasonal decor plastered around every mall, Orchard Road shopping belt lit by Christmas lights, carols playing in shops in late November, Christmas and Boxing Day sale adverts stare out of every newspaper and magazine and hurriedly-thrust flyer, fir-tree-scented IKEA is filled with shoppers gulping down Nygårda Julmust (see Yuletide powers of said soda: here, here and here), Starbucks cups are dotted with snowflakes...and the acapella carollers and the poinsettias! they are taking over the country!.

Starbucks Green Tea Frappuccino and Chocolate Cranberry Muffin Champagne and chardonnay
Pre-carolling Dinner Table Setting Nygårda Julmust
Because Christmas is so big here, it poses a challenge to those who do not believe in reason for the season, much less celebrate the occasion of his birth. They want in on the festivities but don't want to acknowledge that there is anything worth rejoicing about.

No one says "Oh, during Deepavali (or Hari Raya Haji) I just celebrate the spirit of family togetherness and gift-giving and love" because they acknowledge these as Hindu and Muslim festivals. Sure, secularists argue that Christmas has so commercialised that they can, with good conscience, enjoy it without its Jesus-trappings. But what of the ubiquitous nativity scenes? the content of Christmas carols? the moralistic mawkishness of Santa Claus?

And about Mr. Claus: if Jesus were to give a Christmas Day message, it might be along the lines of "We are not amused...", but harsher and not something you would do a stand-up comedy about after. "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good" is stalker scary, but without bite since most kids get presents from "Santa" anyway despite throwing a tantrum at the mall. Scarier than that, the snowy-bearded male bundled in a furry red suit with white trimmings is a dead-ringer for the dragon and beasts of Revelation - he claims to possess the attributes of God himself: omnipotence (all-seeing, all-knowing), omnipresence (especially in the early hours of Christmas Day whatever your time-zone and whether you've remembered to set the intruder alarm), being the arbiter of right and wrong (assumedly, to determine entitlement to pressies), and being acknowledged, almost to the exclusion of all others, as the giver of good gifts. (God knows exactly what you've been thinking and doing, God determines right and wrong because he made the world, and God knows that you've been very very evil with no hope of ever doing enough good to even outweigh your evil, God gives you the best gift of wiping your slate clean (IF you will accept it).)

Some attempts at "reclaiming" Christmas have not gone much better either, eg. delightful Christian acapella CDs for the season marred by well-intentioned blasphemy. If any child of mine, of wide Puss-In-Boots eyes and cute little voice, ever said,"This Christmas, I want to give Jesus all my medicine so he can heal sick people" or "I want to give Jesus my remote-controlled helicopter so he can give toys to other children who don't have any", he'd be sent directly to his room with plain bread and water and a strict injunction to repent.

Jesus is not your local charity - not the Boys' Brigade Sharity Giftbox asking for your unwanted toys for the less fortunate, Jesus is not the Salvation Army ringing handbells for your spare change; he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; he made this universe, so unsurprising he can heal with just a few words, and from a distance, and he can turn water into the wine that is out of this world. He does not need anyone's help.

We're so self-centred that even though we've signed up with the anti-commercialisation and pro-real-meaning-of-Christmas lobbies, we still can't get over the fact that we are not quite the focus of his coming - his obedience to his Father and his Father's jealousy for his own name is the reason he came. We rejoice because we are the unworthy beneficiaries of this.

Christmas is historical, joyful and essential.

Christmas Wedding Table Flower Arrangement

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