Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Yes, it is still Christmas. According to the Catholic liturgical calendar, Christmas does not actually end until the Baptism of the Lord, which this year falls on January 10th, in Canada anyway.
I have been pondering the phrase "Merry Christmas". It really surprises me that this is the default Christmas greeting. It seems that every year there is some disaster or other that ensures that Christmas will be difficult for a lot of people.
I'm sure each and every one of us knows someone who is having a rough time during this season.
I can think of at least a couple of Christmas tunes that make reference to mixed feelings for the Christmastide...'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas', 'I'll be home for Christmas'...'Blue Christmas'...that one from the movie Polar Express for which I cannot figure out a title...
The Movie "A Christmas Carol" had a very nice ending, but the situations that were portrayed were very likely someone's reality. At that point in England, they were probably many people's reality.
And the reason for the season?
Our Saviour began His earthly life born in a manger...a rack for animal food! This after a long, forced trip for His pregnant mother. They were far from their home, and living in a stable! Were this anything but the entrance of eternity into time, I think this could be classed as a rather inconvenient set-up to say the least. Not really a merry picture.
The pictures we are given as an example of a merry Christmas usually include snow, candles, fireplaces, wrapped gifts in abundance, groups of people enjoying each other's company...
Why is this considered the norm? It occurred to me, as I watched an old cartoon of a very jolly Santa Claus providing a profuse number of toys to a house that contained many more than three children, that this was almost cruel, especially given that the cartoon dated from the early 1930s. That would be during the Depression, no?
Whence the merriment?
We should all be joyous when we think of Christmas. This is when Christ came to humanity. Emmanuel means "God with Us".
Did joy somehow become confused with merriment? I do not see anything wrong with being merry at Christmas, if we can manage it. I do think that joy and thankfulness should be what we strive for first.