Is there a therapeutic silliness? In the midst of snow, cold, bare trees and root vegetables growing whiskers in the cellar, how does it make us happy to put on feasts, use up our food stocks and bank accounts, for a few weeks of extravagance?
Perhaps the answer can be found among those who are too poor to have Christmas. Ask those living in poverty about Santa Claus, Jingle Bells, high hopes and high expectations? What does it mean to know you can't light up a tree like everyone else, even though you know these things are not as critical as nutritious food and good health.
The argument that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus is true for those who celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the carols and hymns around that are as beautiful as the staged nativity plays in school. However, for the majority Christmas is about something else, and the origins of these mid-winter celebrations began in Pagan Europe.
For Christians who celebrate I wish you joy, anticipation and gratitude for the Christ's birth. For others I wish you warmth, company, family, lights and celebrations. For small businesses I wish you some extra profits to store for the coming year. For children I wish you that wonderful feeling of magic that comes with imagining Santa Claus flying over the globe, bringing gifts.
Whatever it is I hope we are able to focus on the lights, on the tree, on candles, in a wood fire, in familiar songs and stories, and mostly the sense that yes we can create this warmth and light in the middle of winter. Mostly it is about a ritual that tells us we have a tribe, and we belong.