My very good friends,
I confess to you all that I tend to get a bit of the bar humbugs about me around this time of year.
I don’t really understand why that is. As a child I loved Christmas. I still treasure memories of Christmas past that I shared with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents and brothers and sisters and a few other people who seemed to have some sort of biological connection to me that I never rally got to the bottom of.
I have vivid memories of marvellous presents. Most of them had little monetary value but carried with them instead the message that somebody cared, that somebody knew what fascinated me – that someone understood me.
And I have certainly had, during my time on this planet, far more evidence to support the existence of Santa Claus than I have had supporting the existence of Jesus Christ. The idea of either is preposterous, of course, but, in terms of delivery of promise (and this may be a very personal experience) I have found Santa the more reliable of the two.
But I digress.
The one ‘Christmas Message’ that really appeals to me has something to to with ‘goodwill to all men’. It is a rather old sentiment and I don’t think we should take it too literally. The original author did not want, I am sure, to exclude women as beneficiaries. It was just the way they said things back then. It doesn’t really mean ‘all men’ – it means ‘all people’.
The most important word in that old phrase, anyway, as far as I am concerned, is ‘all’. The word ‘all’, for those of you without easy access to a dictionary, means ‘all’. And so ‘All people’ means ‘all’ people.
It doesn’t mean people you are related to, it doesn’t mean people who are nice to you, or people you might want to sleep with, it doesn’t mean people who like the same God as you, it doesn’t mean people who’s skin colour matches yours or people who support your football team.
It means ‘all’ people.
You might not really like some of these people. Because some of them are, let’s face it, absolute fuckwits. You wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire.
And I am not suggesting that you should invite, in for a drink this Christmas Eve, the weird guy who stands by the telephone box on the park directly across from your apartment every night wearing a soiled grey overcoat and running shoes and stares at you. That would be silly.
But might it not be nice, just for a couple of days this time of year, to have only good thoughts of others? Just for 48 hours be totally non-judgemental? It’s not as easy as it sounds, I grant you. Especially when no-one else seems to be doing it. And even the person sitting directly across from you at Christmas lunch (your sister, probably) insists on loudly describing some drunken social indiscretion that you might have committed twenty years ago.
But I urge you to try anyway.
I won’t be. I’ve given up.