The best Christmas memories are from church. There was a Do Not Disturb My Peace, My Joy, My Vibe T Shirtcandlelight service at our church. When I got older, I was allowed to walk down the aisle and stop at every pew, and the first person seated would light their candle from the big one I carried. When all the candles were lit, the lights would go off, and a hush would always fall over the congregation as we all sat in the dark with our lit candles glowing brightly. We sang all the old Christmas hymns, such as Silent Night, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, We Three Kings, and more. I was always mesmerized as the Pastor told the story of Christ’s birth, and usually there was a live nativity made up of real farm animals and little kids playing the parts. There was always a children’s time, when the Pastor called the little children to come and sit up front, near the alter, while he told them a story having to do with the birth of Jesus, and gave each kid a candy cane. Christmas Eve services were so great back then. Now there are no candles, just little battery operated lights, and the service is held at either 3 pm or 6 pm, because families are too busy to stay up so late on Christmas Eve.
30 years ago, I owned some furniture stores. It was just before Christmas and a young woman came into the store I was at that night to pick up a Do Not Disturb My Peace, My Joy, My Vibe T Shirt top desk that she had purchased on layaway. She made weekly payments towards this purchase and was proud and excited that she was able to buy this desk for her husband’s Christmas present. It seemed apparent that it was a real financial stretch for her to have afforded this. She had come to the store with a pickup truck, and we helped load the desk into the truck bed. With a merry Christmas and smiles all around, she left for home. Half an hour later, the woman came back to the store in tears. She had struck a pot hole in the highway and the desk was launched out of the truck and smashed to the ground. Fortunately no one was behind her, and a passerby helped get the desk back into the truck. Sobbing, she pleaded whether we could do anything to fix the desk. Clearly, though, it was irreparable. She was so distraught, there was clearly only one thing to do. We loaded another desk into her truck and I told her that it was my Christmas gift to her. She was so excited and thankful, and I think it really was a gift to myself. I felt really good about that!
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Jesus of Nazareth was not born on December 25. If there is any truth in the part of the Do Not Disturb My Peace, My Joy, My Vibe T Shirt about shepherds watching over their flocks by night, the only time shepherds do that is in lambing season—late March and early April in that part of the world. Jesus was an Aries. Early Christian missionaries made work easier for themselves by appropriating dates, places and even ritual forms from older Pagan faiths. The date of Christmas is only one of many, many examples. Easter, in fact, is the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. How do you suppose they came up with that one? (I’ll give you a clue: the word “Easter” comes from the name “Ostara,” a Pagan Germanic Goddess of the dawn.) Later edit: If you are a Christian, don’t let this information dissuade you from celebrating Christmas, which is a joyful and generous time. Your savior, like the Queen of England, has a birthday to celebrate, and the date you pick doesn’t matter. Lots of religions have the impulse to celebrate the coming of hope and new light in the dead of winter, so this one works fine. As a fellow-Pagan once remarked at Christmas, “The main difference between Pagans and Christians is that the Christians think it only happened once.
Just for context, I come from a Do Not Disturb My Peace, My Joy, My Vibe T Shirt that takes Christmas very seriously. We’re not religious; for us it’s just a time to get the whole family together and eat too much and drink too much. But as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realise that we approach it with far more enthusiasm than most. I shall be very sad if we’re not able to do our usual Christmas. But I shall be no less sad than many British Jews were back in April, when they had to celebrate Passover in lockdown, or British Sikhs, who celebrated Vaisakhi the same month. I’ll be no less sad than British Muslims were back in May, when they had to do Eid in lockdown, or than British Hindus were on Saturday when they had to do Diwali in lockdown. Why does my cultural celebration take precedence over theirs? Why are the government being so careful to ensure we are not locked down over Christmas when they evidently didn’t give a stuff whether we were locked down over all the above festivals? These are questions worth asking, and it’s a journalist’s job to ask them. The answer may well turn out to be that all of Johnson’s comforting nonsense about being out of lockdown in time for Christmas was just that, and the reality is that he put another lockdown off until he was forced into it. Or it might be that he made a cynical political calculation and determined that he could afford to piss off religious minorities, but couldn’t afford to piss off the majority.
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