Humbug Carols from the Riverbank…

English: Cartoon of George C. Scott as 'Scroog...
Bah Humbug!

I have to say, having seen much of the badness that can also materialise in people during this supposed season of Good Will To All Men, unfortunately, I always find it hard to drum up any enthusiasm for the festivities, genuine or contrived…

As many who know me will confirm, I’ve never really had that much time for Christmas. I’m not a misery per se, I may be grumpy about many things but the true meaning and value of Christmas is not one of them. But, as I’m also not a follower of any particular religion, it holds no meaning to me in terms of faith. It’s the inherent commercialism and falseness of it all these days that constitutes the majority of my disdain.

To say “Bah Humbug” is my standard comment each year would be an understatement (see here). Someone once said;  “Wouldn’t life be worth the living and wouldn’t dreams be coming true, if we kept the Christmas spirit, all the whole year through?” But people in the main don’t, they display their mostly contrived emotions and synthetic concerns for the briefest of periods, then just as quickly return to their business as usual self-interest.

Someone once said; “One of the nice things about Christmas is that you can make people forget the past with a present.” But this Christmas, perhaps more than many before; there will be many of us finding it even harder than usual to be positive and celebrate, especially when there is so such economic uncertainty surrounding us.

During this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol) was told “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time”“We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices”

As many of us face ever more restricted financial discomfort, the more sensible amongst will probably be reining in their Christmas spending somewhat. That in turn will result in less ‘present’ to help you forget the past but many would do so well to learn; a gift to others doesn’t always have to be a materialistic one.

This afternoon HM The Queen will focus on family, friends and the community during Christmas message (see here) because; “The modern family extends much further than blood relatives.” The Queen, quite rightly, will call for us to celebrate the strengths of friends and the community. Whether you happen to be a Royalist or not is mostly immaterial, the lady talks a lot of sense. Many of the problems in UK society today boil down to a distinct lack of social cohesion. 

Writing in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post The Archbishop of YorkJohn Sentamu said; “Christmas in troubled times gives us a chance to reflect on building a fairer world reflects on the duty to support and care for others at Christmas and the urgent task ahead to re-establish a fairer society” (read more).

May the message of Christmas turn all our fears into hope; and heal us from our tendency to wallow in cynicism. We must believe that change is possible. Let us all go out and make it happen. May the peace of Christmas be your gift…(Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York)

But to many others like me, Christmas is simply another day at the office; a day where they do all the work and the fat guy with the posh suit gets all the credit. Having said that, many of those actually doing the ‘work’ such as our emergency services, aren’t actually looking for thanks. A little more consideration for those, who continually put themselves out (or at risk) for us, on either a statutory or voluntary basis, wouldn’t go amis though. The person who said “The Christmas spirit that goes out with the dried-up Christmas tree is just as worthless” was so right.

“But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.” (Charles Dickens)

Unfortunately there are far too many people in our society, from top to bottom, who hold more interest in serving themselves than helping others. Isn’t it a pity their hearts don’t remain ‘open’ for a little longer than just a few days in December in each year?

Lord Francis Jeffrey, an 18th century literary critic wrote of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that it had done more good than “all the pulpits and confessionals in Christendom”. William Makepeace Thackeray, the English novelist described it as; “a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a personal kindness”. These descriptors of how the story has been seen ever since may well be correct however; as Claire Tomalin commented in The Guardian – “Its message may well offer some comfort and joy but we still need to think about the wolfish children.”

Whilst worrying about your mortgage payments, think about those without a home and cut back on your waste and frivolous expenditure. Whilst stuffing yourself to bursting point with masses of rich fayre, think about those who haven’t eaten for days. Whilst imbibing gargantuan quantities of booze, before disturbing the tranquility of all around, then going home to beat hell out of your partner, think of those who have to clear up your mess.

Spare a thought for all the emergency services workers, the ones who can’t be at home with their families because of people like you, or are trying to protect others from the likes of you. Think of the men and women of the RNLI and other rescue services who will put their lives at risk to save yours, no matter what day it is. And finally, think of those in the military, fighting in far off lands and protecting your freedom and right to be an absolute prat…

A Very Merry Humbug to one and all!