So this is Christmas

Thu Dec 23, 2021

Before you continue reading, I should warn you that this post is a bit of a bummer. So, if you’re hoping to get into the Christmas spirit, click away and have a laugh at TikTok or whatever the kids do these days.

I’ll try end on a positive note, although I haven’t gotten there yet obviously as I’ve just started writing and I don’t know where I’m going with this yet. Everywhere and nowhere, most likely, is where all flows of consciousness tend to go.

So, if you’re a jaded middle-aged adult like me, you’ve probably come to the realization that Christmas is about shielding the horrid state of the world from your kids. It’s about furtive doom scrolling bathed in the glow of the Christmas tree. It’s maintaining a fantasy, crafting myth and mystery, an antidote against the literal darkest month of the year, knowing all the while it is simply a placebo.

It’s exhausting. And we’re the lucky ones. For those in the cold, without family, food, or a place to sleep, it’s absolutely the worst time of year. The best of times and the worst of times - the border between these two extremes has become very porous this year.

We’ve just gone through one of the worst floods in BC history, leaving a wake of destruction and misery and so many people without homes. Insurance companies, the scourge of the modern world, are exploiting every dirty loophole they can conjure up to avoid paying anyone in a flood zone.

Inflation is at an all-time high, and food costs are set to skyrocket even more in 2022. Both rent and mortgage rates will follow suit as the banks scramble to keep inflation in check. For non-essential items, ongoing supply constraints have revealed the giant cracks in our reliance on a flailing shipping network. The furniture you ordered a year ago probably still hasn’t arrived.

On top of that fetid mix, sprinkle the Omicron variant on top. It’s bad enough that COVID has created division, with the unvaccinated losing their jobs and the vaccinated trusting that their faith in government and big pharma is not misplaced. But now Christmas is cancelled once more, with the government enforcing never-ending restrictions and lockdowns in a (futile) effort to curb yet another variant.

The good news is that the Omicron variant, by most accounts, is far milder than previous ones. And 80 percent of British Columbians are double vaccinated.

However, once the administration starts down a path, they are compelled by the weight of bureaucracy to keep going down it. And after two years, temporary measures stop being temporary.

Regardless of whether you are on team Booster or are on team Conspiracy Theory, one thing everyone can agree on is that COVID is the biggest buzzkill since the “temporary” introduction of the income tax.

The wealthiest and most privileged people in this world have long ago hardened their hearts to the world around them and for them, it’s business as usual. But for many, even those who are physically okay, declining mental health is the inevitable icing on top of all this.

It’s gotten so bad, that toxic positivity is a thing now.

So, I can’t guarantee that I won’t throw any “toxic platitudes” at you, but you definitely can’t accuse me of putting up a “cheerful facade”. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not exactly winning at life right now and have been spending way too much time wandering around Ancient Greece in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey killing both Spartans and Athenians in equal measure. My greatest accomplishment this year was snagging a free one-year subscription to Disney+ by attending an online Salesforce conference.

But how do you win at life, anyway? You can’t. Life isn’t a competition to see who is the richest, the happiest, or the fittest. We’re all just tourists dropping in for a visit on Planet Earth. You get to choose whether you want to schedule every minute of your stay, whether you want to chill by the pool, or whether you’re open to spontaneous adventure and serendipity. Everybody’s different and it’s your vacation. But don’t waste all your precious time trying to impress the other tourists.

We never asked to be born, but you can decide what to do with the time that is given to you. (Scoff if you will, but reading Lord of the Rings helped me through a tough time.)

So, have a happy Christmas, or have a sad Christmas, if you prefer.

Let’s not forget that before Christmas morphed into a secular mishmash of various traditions with a commercial spin, it was not a happy time. For pagans, the winter solstice was the darkest, coldest time of year. For Christians, the birth of Jesus in a ramshackle cow shed before being hunted by Roman soldiers intent on slaughtering every baby in Bethlehem doesn’t exactly scream joy.

The happiness only comes after. The one commonality across all Christmas traditions is that it is a time of rebirth, renewal, and hope that the days will get brighter. That the new year will be better than the last. Hope is what keeps the despair at bay - it’s what keeps us alive. I can’t think of a better gift to give.

Does that count as ending on a positive note? It’ll have to do.

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