As soon as December rolls around, the world seems to be painted with new colours.
Familiar sights and sounds cover a dreary, drab landscape with gloss and gleam, sights and sounds, music and song transforming our ambience into a merry-go-round. Slowly we find ourselves in its midst, drawn to this nostalgic mood of joy and jubilance.
“’Tis the season to be jolly after all, the year is going, let him go.”
It has not been a great year by any stretch of the imagination. All we hear are complaints, and rightly so, during this period of extreme global financial stress.
What we must remember is that we are not alone — it is global and there is little we can do about it. What we can do is set our moaning and groaning aside and get swept up in the spirit of Christmas.
Yes, we need a little Christmas — its sights and sounds, its colour and glow, its warmth and friendship, its spirit of giving and forgiving.
We need to escape from the rude reality of our existence, even for a spell and concentrate on family, friends and bringing joy to the innocent children, victims of a cruel world.
The universality of the Christmas season has become as popular among non-Christians. Its appeal has grown exponentially through the ages seducing people of all faiths to embrace the Christmas spirit wholeheartedly.
The progressive movement has distanced itself from the fact that this is a spiritually Christian feast, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, even if the date may be off. Instead, it celebrates Santa and his sleigh pulled with 12 reindeer, led by Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, another popular Christmas song.
Our title is also borrowed from a popular Christmas song first featured in the musical “Mame”, by famous composer Jerry Herman, sung by Angela Lansbury (1966), and has since been recorded by tens of artists.
Somehow it seemed appropriate as Mame loses all her fortune in the 1929 US Depression and instead of bemoaning her loss, she bursts into song with her young nephew and two servants “We need a little Christmas”. Well, we do too.
The spirit of Christmas will heal our wounds and help us recover from the financial downturn in the world economy. High prices may be the “talk du jour” but a range of factors have led to our sorry state.
Are we ever destined to forget coronavirus? It hovers above like a black cloud, always menacing, always threatening. Millions of people have lost their lives and/or livelihoods through this badly managed pandemic which has and still is baffling scientists with its lockdowns, masks, and endless vaccines.
As though our lingering pandemic woes were not enough, petroleum and gas prices, by a simple stroke of Joe Biden’s pen, became scarce, expensive or unavailable. The US was not only self-sufficient, but selling enough oil to Europe. With Biden cancelling drilling leases, blocking drilling in oil-rich Alaska, the boom went to bust and the US is now begging for oil elsewhere. This chokehold imposed by Biden, for the greening of the planet might eventually destroy the inhabitants of the planet.
With the mighty US so clumsy at handling its policies, Russia decided to wage war in the Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine provide 30 per cent of the world’s wheat. With the shortage of essentials, farmers are unable to produce their regular crop. Even transportation of goods depends on oil-guzzling trucks.
Prices go up, and up, and up.
Rather than lament, let us decorate our homes, shops, clubs, stores, restaurants etc. in green, red, gold and silver as we sing along our irresistible Christmas music that has become essential to the Christmas tradition.
Though new songs pop up every year, listening to a children’s choir sing “Joy to the World” is enough to lift our spirits for a whole year.
Admittedly, 2022 has been a tough year. All our celebrations, birthdays, weddings, graduations, feasts have been subdued, but we are not downsizing Christmas. Quite the contrary, it gives us even more reason to make-up for squandered delight and bliss with family and friends.
Sociologist Emile Durkheim calls Christmas joy “collective effervescence”. How appropriate a description for the positive mood that accompanies us throughout the holiday season.
We were collectively involved through all the sorrow, let us now collectively turn to the bright side. There is always a bright side, only the wise can find it. There is proof that they are the ones who live longer.
According to psychologist Fred Bryant, when we put aside our worries and allow ourselves to savour “the good stuff” we build resilience which helps us to manage stress and daily challenges that surely await us.
Savouring little things and feeling gratitude for what we have can lead to greater overall wellbeing.
There will always be conflicts, tragedies, sufferings, but family, friends, children deserve our love and happiness, our compassion and joy.
Let us not be stingy with our joy. Let us spread it around for we do possess it as we do possess sadness and sorrow.
Now we have an opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the visit from Santa and to delight in feasting, even if it is a little less sumptuous.
There is enough for us to be grateful and generous. It impacts our self-esteem.
Even science agrees, we need a little Christmas.
“At Christmas play and make good cheer / For Christmas comes but once a year.”
Thomas Tusser (1524-1580)
*A version of this article appears in print in the 15 December, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly