14
Dec
07

I shall keep my good humour…

I am one of those old fashioned souls who still loves the Christmas season. I love the lights. I love the music (Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, mind you, not the rubbish that passes for Christmas music nowadays). I love the way my childhood memories come back to me every year, Christmas presents from the past.

I still love watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

Now there are some people to whom Christmas is simply an annoyance, and I understand how they feel. Christmas has become cheapened and commercialized, to be sure, but I suppose that’s the price we pay for living in a capitalist society. It is hectic, it is frustrating, it is expensive. It is a pain in the ass at times, I agree.

To those who have difficulty finding joy in this season, I would offer these words:

In an early scene in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, Scrooge’s nephew Fred Holywell chides his uncle for sneering at Christmas, saying, “I have always thought of Christmas…as a good time…when men open up their shuttered hearts to one another.”

Later, in a more dramatic scene, Marley’s ghost indignantly answers Scrooge’s comment that he was always a “good man of business”:  “Mankind was my business! The common welfare was my business! Mercy, charity, benevolence, forbearance, were all my business! The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the vast, comprehensive ocean of my business!”

To me, the real “meaning of Christmas” is that we, as members of the same human race despite our differences, can all “make mankind our business“, in large ways and small. A friendly smile to that harried clerk at the cash register can brighten that person’s day. Perhaps, if you happen to be one the long suffering souls who works behind that cash register, a friendly word to a customer can make the difference between a good day and bad one, for you and for them. Or maybe it can take the form of an encouraging word to a co-worker who’s having a bad day. Or maybe holding back an angry word to a family member, even if you really want to strangle them. Perhaps it’s helping a senior citizen struggling with their holiday packages, or a lost child crying in the store looking for its mother

I am nominally a Catholic, but really just nominally. When it comes to contemplating the divine, one person’s religious belief is usually as valid as another’s. I do not know if Jesus of Nazareth was really the Son of God, as many believe. But I happen to know that at least some of what Jesus, divine or not, is reported to have said makes as much sense in our time as it did in his. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, “Forgive your enemies”, and (my personal favorite) “Judge not lest ye be judged”. Whether or not you believe in the divinity of Jesus, these are good words to live by, and it would be a much better world if everyone did live by them, regardless of their stated religion (or lack thereof). When you get right down to it, these aren‘t necessarily religious beliefs at all. They are simply a blueprint for living in harmony with the rest of the human race.

Those who have been reading this blog will know that I have engaged in some spritited debates with some who do not believe in any god at all.  I have enjoyed these debates, and by participating in them I have been given much to think about.  But one thing that has not changed is my very real belief that the real meaning of Christmas is that human beings can, when they put their minds to it, be genuinely decent to one another. And if we can remember to do that at this time of the year, perhaps we can even try to “make mankind our business” throughout the year.

And so, like the irrepressible Fred Holywell, “I shall keep my good humour, and wish you a Merry Christmas.”

–Smith

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8 Responses to “I shall keep my good humour…”


  1. December 16, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    I think this is the time we should remember community over the individual. I think that’s one of the main reasons the quotes from Jesus are so important.

    I entirely agree.

    And a Merry Christmas to you.

    And to you, sir!

  2. 2 yogi's tiger
    December 17, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    i used to love chrismas, not for the presents, but the beauty of the season with all the lights and the stores decorated and wherever you went people wished you a merry christmas. i loved visiting the common and seeing the chreche and all the trees lit up. now i wish i could go to sleep november lst and wake up january lst. the merchants have made a mockery of christmas now starting to set out christmas items before halloween. where is the religion in all this. christmas was a celebration of the birth of Christ and the giving of small gifts to commemorate the gifts of the Magi. now one wonders and worries if the gifts they give are good enough and will the people like them. i feel that it is a day given over to greed. maybe i am just getting old and crotchety. anyway, have a merry christmas and blessed new year

  3. December 17, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    The video store I usually rent from is going out of business. I stopped by there to see if they had George C. Scott’s Scrooge (to buy) but they didn’t. I will be renting it, though.
    Merry Christmas!

    It’s worth the extra effort, believe me! Merry Christmas!

  4. 4 evylsmoke
    December 17, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    “a friendly word to a customer . . . “

    We’re both laughing.
    Hysterically.

    Ahh, a visit from the two headed monster. Always glad to amuse.

    Honestly, a nice post.
    But you’re too damn happy.
    Knock that fucking shit off.

    It the new medication. Great stuff!

  5. December 18, 2007 at 12:07 am

    Lovely sentiment and post, Smith. I too, shall keep my good humor. I’m a sucker for Christmas and nobody will spoil my joy about it. I’m glad you feel the same way.
    Annie

    See, we DO agree on some things! 😉

    Merry Christmas to you, and thanks for stopping by! Now, I need you to go have a word with the two smart-asses in the comment just above yours. 😉

  6. 6 Red
    December 18, 2007 at 2:53 am

    Love this post, Smith.
    Perhaps if they made happy pills a requirement, then the world would be a better place. I know my world is a better place when I take my happy pills.

    I’ve often thought they should add Prozac to the drinking water to go with the Fluoride. 😉

    Seriously though, it’s a nice thought. It’s something that I wish could happen in yours and my lifetime.
    And I do still watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’. I watched it the other night, and the girl was very much UNinterested. It wasn’t from her time, she doesn’t get the innocence that Charlie Brown and Linus portray. I love the movie, I manage to watch it every year. I’ll watch it again before next Tuesday Im sure.
    Your card is in the mail .. And I’ll end this ramble with a Merry Christmas. Have a safe one, my friend!

    A belated thank you for everything!

  7. 7 Sam
    December 21, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    May your Christmas be everything you desire. All the best to you Smith.

    Well, since it’s obviously too late to wish you a Merry Christmas, I’ll just say that I hope your New Year is off to a good start!

  8. September 21, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Don’t know if this blog is still active, but thanks for the post on The Christmas Carol. Your points helped me write my comparison/contrast essay of the theme of the Christmas Carol with that of Emily Dickinson’s poem, Because I could not stop for Death.


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