Sunday, December 1, 2019

Losing My Christmas Spirit

Current Christmas mood

The past few years of my life have been full of Christmas spirit, mostly because of parenthood. It's been a truly great thing to vicariously experience the holidays through my kids and to remember my own Christmases. I was a misfit in school growing up but I was lucky to have a very warm and loving family that made celebrating Christmas fun.

For some reason this year I am not feeling the spirit. Thanksgiving weekend will come and go without us putting out our decorations. My wife is feeling the same ennui, and our children's enthusiasm is not enough to shake us out of this.

After some reflection I think this has to do with Christmas on the meta level. Once you strip away both the consumerism, it is a holiday about hope. On the pagan level, it is the hope for the spring to arrive as we sit in the depths of winter darkness. On the more Christian level it is the hope that the birth of Jesus, savior of the world, represents. Christmas means that the broken world can indeed be saved and a kernel of that exists in even its more secular permutations. In recent years that hope has probably had a lot to do with my increased Christmas spirit, even if my children's zeal is the primary factor. In fact, the two intertwine because nothing forces me to think about the future and nothing absorbs as much of my hope as my children do. 

I think my loss of Christmas spirit reflects, deep down, my profound pessimism in this moment. In world affairs the dominoes keep falling, from Poland to Bolivia. In this country evidence that the despot has committed high crimes is out in the open and it will not lead to his removal. The 2020 election will be marred by voter suppression, disinformation, foreign meddling, and the reality that the electoral college will very likely preserve minority rule. (This is currently my prediction, btw). The world is burning up and apart from people posting Greta Thunberg memes little to nothing is being done to stop it in this country. In fact, our government's policies are hastening the apocalypse.

So what is there to look forward to? I think of the world my children will inherit and am filled with the deepest sense of helplessness and sadness. The last handful of Christmases I knew things were bad but I could still take heart in the promise of the holiday. Maybe I will eventually get there this year, but it will take some doing.

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