Christmas is the celebration of a birth--and so it celebrates a death, too. The heat and the light increase in each 24-hour period, and this day in which I write is the Solstice. If Christmas comes from the spinning of the great round rock on which we live, with the four seasons, the day and night and death and life--all those cycles, then we have a better chance at creating Peace. Amen?
The darkness recedes. Spring will be a great green fire, the power of this new child in the circle of animals and bowed to by the three kings--will be glorious in the Spring. We exchange gifts to honor the physical and psychological exchange in love--the act that makes a child.
In fact, Christmas giving each year should be a lot like the workings of peace, the forgotten diplomacy--where a magic of trust is created between two foreign parties, and they exchange their mysterious gifts from their two cultures, creative offers of assurance in the form of gifting across borders...
So what has happened in our current time? Christmas has taken over the whole year, a Ponzi scheme spreading its Muzak into summer from the fall, and its indebtedness past May 1st. It is the rogue holiday of Consumerism. We are celebrating the coming of the light, and then we vengefully ho! ho! ho! at the retreat of the dark--calling all things Evil that are not in plain well-lighted sight. At Christmas our shopping-giving reinforces the lie that death and darkness are divided from light and life. This only happened in the recent decades of our absurd Consumer economy. Human culture has had the wisdom to accept and celebrate the darkness, too.
So the fabulous underworld must beat a tactical retreat at Christmas. Halloween is shown the door, the Day of the Dead gets canned. The power of night journeys--the kings and shepherds in the darkness, the wandering star--all are demonized. The things that would break culture open, the sources of change, this "bad world" is the Evil we triumph over with our dazzling corporate Santa.
The denial of death-in-life has left us habitually shopping, hoping to right some internal imbalance that we sense but the Christmas marketing denies with desperate force. And, as we have seen during the age of Consumerism, this sad shopping is violent. War is a form of macro-shopping. The Iraqi War was sold to us like a big video game. The three kings - the foreigners - get no child under their star. They arrive from afar and we put them in detention.
If we back away from these products and return to the imagination each of us owns, which has naturally the presence of our own death in it - then we can make an exchange that will create Peace, and oh we do need that Spring now. It is important this year that we make our gifts - find, discover, deeply experience the things we give. We do have a sense for when the whole of life is in a gift.
Christmas gift idea: Let the Solstice into the stable. And yes we will die. Because we are alive!
(Photo: Flickr CreativeCommons by SqueakyMarmot)