Seasonal thoughts

 

Advent is the season of the coming, and for many of us what is coming is a massive spend fest culminating in a bout of binge eating and drinking and an almighty hang over and indigestion. The festive season also means a spike in the number of drunk driving offences and domestic dramas, when tolerance levels will be pushed to the limit and beyond, when we will drown in a sea of plastic and polystyrene packaging and unwanted gifts that will either flood the ebay-style sites in the new year or end up as landfill. As the build-up begins, it might be salutary to remind ourselves what this festival is all about—light’s victory over darkness.

We all complain about the lack of daylight. Some of us elevate it to a medical condition that needs treatment. Caribbean cruises are beneficial I’m told. The nights are long and cold and the days are short and cold, full of cloud, threatening snow when it’s not actually raining. We all feel the need for a burst of brilliance and for someone to tell us it isn’t always going to be like this—eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow… well, maybe just eat, drink and be merry.

The fear of the dark is year-round, not just in the winter. The countryside is littered with the houses of people who claim to want the peace and quiet but are terrified of the dark and light up house and grounds like concentration camps. The light pollution is appalling, disturbs the biorhythms of wild birds and animals so they can’t rest after a day of being hounded by men of one idea with guns. The ‘dark, sacred night’ is a thing of the past.

Some choose to create their winter burst of brilliance with the land of the midnight sun effects of artificial illuminations, streets festooned with blinking light, shop fronts bleeping and gushing all night, public buildings draped in the colours of the northern lights. The final push will remain either as a memory of expensive fun or as a blur of over-indulgence, family rows and sulks and an almighty mess to clear up.

For others, a birth will be their symbol of regeneration, hush and candlelight, carols and being pleasant to complete strangers. As a symbol it’s very new, a mere 2000 years old. The sun has been fulfilling its promise of regeneration for I don’t know how many billions of years. Either way, it’s all about chasing away the dark and creating a light that will tide us over until the spring.

You don’t have to subscribe to either trend, neither God nor Mammon. The great and very witty Clive James described religion as “an advertising agency for a product that does not exist.” Perhaps, one day, we will be able to get our burst of winter brilliance without either the advertising or religious stunts, and be content with that lifting of the spirits when the sun begins its ascent, promising spring and renewal—a promise that so far, has always been kept.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

18 thoughts on “Seasonal thoughts”

  1. We’ve been eating Thanksgiving leftovers for the last couple of days, and we have my birthday and Hanukkah coming up. Lots of food and drink over the next few weeks! We don’t light up our house, but I like the coziness of candles inside during this time of year. Clive James is right. 🙂

    1. Yes, I like the candle light and bringing greenery into the house. Since the food is vegan, I can never get enthused about it. We’ve also insisted on no gifts this year. We don’t want anything and there is no flea market here to pick up quirky oddities to give as gifts. Apparently this Christmas is going to be not Christmas but my birthday celebration (the 11th) and husband’s birthday (Nov 27th). Jesus can celebrate with his own family for once 🙂

      1. That’s what our celebration specialist said. She’s prepared to give in over Christmas celebrations that none of us feels concerned by, but she won’t let us get out of celebrating our birthdays!

  2. As always Jane you have cut to the truth. Sadly the meaning of Christmas it was ever known is totally lost. I am not a huge fan of Christmas too many dark ones. December and January I always loose weight.
    It’s so hyper, over commercial, plain wrong on all levels. Well said Jane. 💜

    1. I know what you mean, and it’s the way I feel too. When the children are young you stress about not being able to buy them the things you know their friends will be getting, and when they’re older there are all the frictions that have to be sorted. Sometimes it’s easier to let them do something else instead.

  3. The promises of humans, like the wrappings they come in, are subject to constant revision and disappointment. But morning returns, and so does spring.
    Clive James–he will be missed. (K)

  4. I’m looking forward to the light of longer days.
    My Christmas/New Year’s plans do not include a trip to see family this year, due to finances. But it turns out I’ll be traveling mid-month for a delayed memorial service for my brother-in law. More darkness. It will be a quick turnaround for the return, but at least I’ll see my children.

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