The View From Here – While Christmas is explicitly sentimental, it remains magically untouched by ridicule

Tom Henihan
There is not much anyone can say about Christmas that doesn’t sound clichéd or come off as trite and sentimental.

During Christmas, there are a myriad of standard blessings, such as “the season filling the home with joy and the heart with love,”… “the season of giving, good wishes and peace” … “the warmest thoughts and all the best to family at this special time” etc. While all of these blessings may seem perfunctory, unlike stock phrases at other times of the year, they somehow never ring as being insincere.

As Christmas by its very nature is a time of explicit sentiment and overt goodwill, these standard greetings are as emblematic of the season as carol singing and therefore never seem blithe or insincere.

Sure, many people protest about the expense, the effort and the stress of Christmas but this is mostly posturing, a last show of resistance before finally embracing it and getting onboard.

In essence, there can only be a traditional Christmas. Nostalgia is the stuff in which the season is swathed, that is part of its charm. It allows us to put aside any pretence of sophistication and cool, urbane detachment and indulge in unabashed gaudiness.

One of the reasons children are enchanted and mesmerized by Christmas is because it is a manifestation of innocence and naïve extravagance.

Christmas is also about light. Along with Christmas trees and displays of lights the nativity scene also has radiance.

It is a radiance that is central and profound, depicted in the guiding light of the Star of Bethlehem and the archetypal glow of redemption around the manger.

As with all rituals, Christmas is a re-enactment with a fixed inner geometry that is sacrosanct and unalterable. It ought not to be modernized, modified, secularized or commercialized.

It should remain unaltered and eternal. Any meddling can only disarmits magic and extinguish its flame.

Of course, it is essential that people of all faiths and denominations Pare encouraged and welcome to participate in Christmas and be the recipients of its generosity and goodwill.

That is integral to the season’s all embracing show of benevolence.

However, without austerity or belligerence, without excluding anyone it is important to preserve Christmas’ Christian ideal.

Christians should not allow secular interests to usurp Christmas. The objective of those who secularize Christmas is to deflect its central theme away from Christ, diminish its religious and spiritual depth in order to extend its commercial reach.

Christmas is and always will be a celebration of the birth of Christ, of the biblical magi, the Three Wise Men who came from the east bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh, the origin story behind gift-giving at on Christmas Day.

And as the birth of the Christ child is the origin of Christmas so children are still central to its celebration and its meaning.

It is through the response of children that its magic it most personified, made truly evident and it is in many ways through osmosis that adults can still best experience its magic.

It is also important to acknowledge that when people say they are glad that Christmas is over, I believe they are also being absolutely sincere.

It is always liberating to emerge from the chimerical, Christmas cocoon and to look forward to the New Year opening up ahead.

Share this post