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Surviving Christmas

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    Surviving Christmas

    Really did not know where to leave this.

    Making peace with Christmas

    I miss Christmas.

    57 Christmas seasons had passed before the 58th failed to arrive. I expected either a renaissance, or the termination of existence. I really did not expect Christmas would no longer matter. Living with depression makes the Christmas season a vulnerable time. You do not wish to spoil it for others, yet you have no inclination to enjoy goodwill. Christmas as a child was filled with anticipation and my family had the faith in Jesus Christ that defines the celebration of his birth. The exchange of presents was predisposed by the three wise men bearing gifts. Sadly, this spirit of giving degenerated into the commercialization of Christmas and war has tarnished the spiritual message to the point that I avoid any connection with any religion. Still, I felt the tug of goodwill and I participated with an increasingly jaded reluctance until Christmas failed to come.

    Celebration of Christmas does not pass the test of logic. The very word suggests a belief in God along with the Catholic ritual of Mass. This causes general outrage in the Christian world when the secular celebration seeks to replace any reference to Christ. Even the date becomes something of a guess as the celebrations come around the time of the winter solstice and likely incorporates pagan rituals, possibly best illustrated by the Christmas tree. Still, should we choose to celebrate a life lived two millenium ago, it is logical that the mortal person in question would have been born and died. This would account for two of the 365 days we are given each year. Christmas and Easter may be as good as any dates. Tradition cements this. Outside the Christian world, neither the date or the event are significant. Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny will take care of the secular crowd.

    Christmas transcends Christianity. The best illustration I know of occurred in 1914 when opposing sides along the Western Front in WW1 spontaneously ceased hostilities and even celebrated Christmas together. Little known fact is that this caused considerable concern amongst the commanders who saw this as fraternization. This notion nearly qualifies Black Sabbath's “War Pigs” as a Christmas carol. In more recent events, I read where Muslim troops protected a Christian group from certain death at the hands of Islamic extremists. Meanwhile, North American Christian zealots spread their vile poison. I'm sure the war pigs made certain 1914 will not come again.

    From Wikipedia;

    Captain Robert Patrick Miles, King's Shropshire Light Infantry, who was attached to the Royal Irish Rifles recalled in an edited letter that was published in both the Daily Mail and the Wellington Journal & Shrewsbury News in January 1915, following his death in action on 30 December 1914:
    Friday (Christmas Day). We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. The funny thing is it only seems to exist in this part of the battle line – on our right and left we can all hear them firing away as cheerfully as ever. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting 'Merry Christmas, Englishmen' to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man's land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternizing in the middle (we naturally did not allow them too close to our line) and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night.

    On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (24 and 25 December) 1914, Alfred Anderson’s unit of the 1st/5th Battalion of Black Watch was billeted in a farmhouse away from the front line. In a later interview (2003), Anderson, the last known surviving Scottish veteran of the war, vividly recalled Christmas Day and said:
    I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence. Only the guards were on duty. We all went outside the farm buildings and just stood listening. And, of course, thinking of people back home. All I’d heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices. But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted ‘Merry Christmas’, even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war.
    About Christmas Anderson said:
    I'll give Christmas Day 1914 a brief thought, as I do every year. And I'll think about all my friends who never made it home. But it's too sad to think too much about it. Far too sad.

    So there you have it. A pagan celebration hijacked by Christianity, hijacked once again by commercialism and somehow inexplicably promoting peace and goodwill. All well intended, yet producing the most terrifying personal stress. How does humanity do it?!

    I know those around me tried. The house was decorated, we watched Christmas movies Christmas dinner was shared. Christmas cards seem to have suffocated under the weight of social media, but a few still arrived in the mail and the odd text message of cheer was sent. Christmas morning came, but I still did not find any joy to displace the angst I feel for the human condition. No fat jolly red elf stuck in the chimney, no Christmas miracle under the tree, just a feeling of pointlessness. Even Scrooge and the Grinch had their renaissance. I did not.

    Will Christmas ever return? I do not know that with any degree of certainty. I am not qualified to dictate the conditions for a return, nor am I obligated to accept the terms others may dictate to me. There is a heaviness of heart for the ghost of Christmas past, Christmas present seems to have given up and Christmas yet to come is uncertain. I do not fear the future as did Scrooge. I believe I have made my peace.

    Happy New Year.

    Thank you for so eloquently stating your thoughts about Christmas, Fighting Back. I have read every word. I'm sure there are many who feel as you do. Depression has a way of colouring the goings on around us in a very dim light. Christmas time is no different.

    The subject of World War I is, perhaps strangely, a special one for me, and I'd like to share the reason why. An uncle of mine - my dad's brother - was literally in the trenches of that war. (I know this makes me seem really old, but I'm not quite that old! I came along late in my father's life, as he'd come along late in his parents' life, so the uncle I refer to was older than my father.) I never met the man until I was in my twenties, as he lived far away. Most years, Christmas was the only time there was a phone call between the two brothers (long distance was pretty expensive). There were, however, a few letters exchanged during the year.

    At age twelve, and a fan of pen pals and letter writing, I decided to surprise my uncle with a letter. He promptly wrote back, and that started a life long correspondence. We met several times, and those memories are precious to me. He told me about the war, and the trenches, and being gassed, and the marching. I don't recall him talking of the Christmas "peace" you've described, but he may have. I do know I've heard of it
    Last edited by uni; December 14, 2016, 03:45 PM.

    ~ it's always worth it ~


      The above post is only part of what I set out to say. For some reason I lost a good portion of what I'd written into cyberspace. I have no idea where it went. Anyway, now I've lost the drift, so that's about it.

      ~ it's always worth it ~


        Hello Fighting back. I'm a little lost so if I say something stupid, I apologize in advance and assure you that it wasn't intentional. However I take it that perhaps Christmas isn't a good time of year for you.

        I don't know what the spirit of Christmas is about, I know that some of the traditional stories that come from the bible are not that accurate. However I enjoy Christmas. One of the reasons that I enjoy Christmas is that I(we) give very few gifts, celebrate Christmas in my own way and I think that Christmas is for kids. The commercial part of Christmas makes very little money out of my wife or I. I can't stand crowded stores, but my wife loves to buy the few presents that we give out, so I am fortunate there. I'm not much of a person to listen to music and seldom listen to the radio, but for some reason I love Christmas carols.

        Your story about the WW1 truce is a fact, in 1915 the brass ordered the men not to do it and threatened court martial for anyone who did.

        Did Christmas develop from a pagan ritual, probably, certainly gift giving during December was long established by the Romans several hundred yrs before Christ and had absolutely nothing to do with the 3 (or12) wise men. The birth of Christ was not even celebrated at any specific time period for centuries. It was at times celebrated in April, May, Nov, Dec and Jan. until a pope in the 4th century set the date.

        So for me, Christmas is a time to enjoy and not to worry. I agree that the commercialization of Christmas has gone to far. A big box store releases movies on certain dates before Christmas and if you aren't there within a day or two, good luck getting them. I also hate to see the people in the stores so harried that they are not enjoying themselves (both staff and customers) , but I can't change that, however I can limit how much we buy and to whom we give.

        I do hope that you can find some way to enjoy the festive season, even if parts of it may bother you. Take Care. paul m
        "Alone we can do so little;
        Together we can do so much"
        Helen Keller



          I'm typing now my first words after joining this forum ..

          Fighting back

          first .. thank u for highlighting this topic .. surviving Christmas .. I'm sure many people share the same feeling with you .. including me ..

          Second .. despite the fact that I am having trouble surviving this Christmas season ( for my own special reasons ) .. I'm not gonna talk about it now ..
          That's not gonna be helpful for all of us .. but it's only to explain why I feel for you ..

          Third .. i think your World War One story is a true one .. that's not the first time I hear it or read about it .. it does imply many meaningful facts .. but history is history.. & it has sad disturbing stories too ..

          Fourth .. last but not least .. the only way i use to survive loneliness in holiday seasons is by keeping myself busy & watch videos or read essays about things not related to Christmas .. as much as possible .. sometimes it work .. sometimes it doesn't .. it's a continuous trial & error process ..
          other lonely people survive Christmas in different ways .. most of them didn't work for me .. lonely people share Christmas feelings stories but they don't share the same personal details & personal characteristics ..

          Thank you


            Welcome to the forum Jafar The Wizard.

            Humans punish themselves endlessly
            for not being what they believe they should be.
            -Don Miguel Ruiz-


              Hello Jafar and welcome to the forums. Take Care. paul m
              "Alone we can do so little;
              Together we can do so much"
              Helen Keller


                oh fighting back I so get where you are going, the meaning is so lost now by the strongest entity which seems like commercialization even the donation and such. I feel so very lost this year more so than the last 45yrs. I'm struggling with my spirituality along with this brain of bleak. I do wish that you and the others will find a way to endure that's how it is for me.


                  Thanks everybody.

                  I wrote those words last year. I have quite a novel brewing in my journal and occasionally, I get brave enough to share. The post 2 weeks ago is a cut and paste straight from a particularly tough time and I am fortunate that this year has not been as difficult. I hope it has been helpful.

                  Christmas did not come back yet. In fact, this year has been somewhat subdued in general. Can't quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be less extravagance about it. Light displays are quite a bit less garish, the Muzak in the stores has been quieter and I have not encountered the crowds. Of course, I'm not out there looking for it and perhaps that December cold snap kept everyone indoors. The Grinch in me has become quite settled indeed. No need to climb Mount Crumpit.

                  The WWI story is a cut in paste within my cut and paste and it is the reason I placed this in the inspirational readings section. Old soldiers have a story to tell and that one, at least for me defines what Christmas could and should be. I too have a relative that served. He was nearly legendary in our household and I met him only once. He was said to be shell shocked. I think that is WWI talk for PTSD. Certainly a subject we are familiar with on this forum. He was a considerable influence on my father, who enlisted in WWII, but could not serve for medical reasons. My ethnic community is marked by a view that we do not go to war and the official stance was to register as a conscientious objector. My great uncle, as well as my father and his brother would have none of that and this led to strained relations with the church. Outside our community, those who served would not look favorably on the CO's. It certainly put our family in a unique position, but that is a whole other story.

                  I have managed to not wreck the season for my friends and family. They in turn have not been pressuring me to join in while maintaining that delicate balance of not excluding me. For that, I am grateful. I would hope all can achieve a similar peace. I would wish you a merry Christmas, but that seems quite awkward with respect to the subject matter, but maybe it is the thought that counts.