I’m led by an elf (whose name I didn’t catch – could it have been ‘Squeaky’?) through the vast workshop complex here at the (rather chilly) North Pole. ‘Impressive’ doesn’t begin to describe Santa’s HQ, candy-striped elves fill every nook and cranny doing anything from painting rocking horses to soldering tablet computers (I make a mental note to consult an elf next time my laptop plays up. Although I’m not exactly sure how I’d get hold of one, they don’t use social media ‘It’s bad for your elf’ says one rather smug fellow).
If Christmas didn’t exist, we’d need to invent it.
It’s no coincidence that the feast lies at the darkest part of the year, literally ‘in the bleak mid-winter’. A time when we need something to look forward to, a pick-me-up. Pre-Christian society understood this, with their ‘Yuletide’ winter solstice celebrations, which were neatly ‘re skinned’ (using a modern parlance) by early Christianity with the familiar Bethlehem-based narrative. The story changed, but the heart of the feast remained the same – communities coming together to celebrate, during the bleakest of seasons.
The mid-winter oasis of the ‘festive season’ was, for generations, the exclusive territory of religion. But things change, meaning evolves and time moves on. We know, of course, that the ‘holidays’ so movingly crooned of in the Cola commercial are a contraction of the Christian ‘holy days’. Yet the word no longer has an ecclesiastical connotation. The same might be said of ‘Christmas’ itself – an abbreviation of ‘Christ’s Mass’, which (I feel) wouldn’t be the primary definition for most. Like ‘holiday’, the word has new common meaning: a festive period of goodwill and joviality. There are new myths and traditions too, with John Lewis and Coca Cola at the heart of these, here in this country.
I wish those who choose to celebrate the religious during this festive time well. They do not, however, have a monopoly on ‘the true meaning of Christmas’.
Our designated role models wantonly display either ignorance of or ambivalence to the didactic element of their elevated status. They willingly take the benefits that society is happy to pile upon them, yet few, it would seem, ever give proper consideration to the multitude of responsibilities they have to those who model overtly themselves upon them. Perhaps it’s unfair to expect so much from these Alpha males. Introspection is not a trait usually associated with this personality type. Essentially, masculinity in our society is in crisis because we’ve asked our young to emulate those who consistently exhibit some of the gender’s worst traits.
As a SAHD, I’m beginning to feel like a Betamax owner in a VHS world – ask your mum. To be fair, I do try to be quite ‘zen’ about the stupidity I encounter daily from members of the public. But there’s only so much idiocy one man can take…
In a former life, long before In The Night Garden marathons and synchronized bacon sandwich and Peppa Pig viewing sessions, I used to have a responsible job where people listened to and acted upon what I said. These days I find myself in the centre aisle of the Co-op pleading with my son to stop crying because I won’t buy him a full-sized carpet cleaning system.
Yes, that happened.