Episode 6: Return of the Seasonal Message
Usually, this message consists of some unoriginal reflections on the non-existent "War on Christmas" apparently being waged by an Army of Godless-Liberal-Socialist-Pinko-Homosexual-Feminist-Islamofascist-Terrorists. This year, there appears to have been a lull in hostilities with few high profile clashes.
There was a minor skirmish in Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire. A leaflet distributed by the council outlining their festive plans referred to "Christmas Elves", "Christmas pop tunes", and a special dance "to link the Diwali and Christmas celebrations," but this wasn't good enough for the stalwart defenders of Christmas who derided the council's reference to a "Beeston Lights Switch On Event" held on November 28, almost a month before Christmas. Cue inane comments like, "We have had Christian tradition in this country for thousands of years" (about, two thousand, actually) and a promise by the council to use the term next year.
This is of course, complete nonsense. With lights on for almost a quarter of the year in many towns, it is bizarre that we should think of them only as "Christmas" lights. It should be obvious that none of this has anything to do with Christianity. Christmas is after all a pagan festival hijacked by Christians as a way of getting themselves through winter. Rather it is the latest front in an ongoing conflict raged by those who would set back what advances (in rights for women, homosexuals and ethnic minorities) have been made over the previous century.
None of this means we can't or shouldn't celebrate at this time of year. It's just that we shouldn't let a bunch of right-wing authoritarians dictate how we celebrate. Bear in mind that if we had their way we'd all be tea-total and would spend Christmas morning in church before going back to the Workhouse in the afternoon, with a quick break for bread and water if we were lucky.
One tradition I've decided not to follow this year is that of sending Christmas cards. I've never been a big card writer. I'd like to say this was driven by ethical considerations about destruction of forests, the generation of waste and the perpetuation of thoughtless consumerism. The truth, of course, is that I'm just a bit lazy. That said, this year, I have decided that instead of sending cards I'm going to send my friends an email (something I've done in past years, anyway) and donate the money to charity.
In case you're interested, I've decided to donate the money to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a group dedicated to ending "the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species." Do check them out, they've done a lot of good work and put Greenpeace to shame.
Talking about environmentalism, 2009 may well be remembered as the point at which we failed to stop anthropogenic climate change. That isn't inevitable, but I think it is very likely we will look back on it as the year where it became clear that our so called leaders were not up to the job.
From the attacks on climate activists during the G20 in April, through the failure to intervene in the closure of the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight in July (despite an inspiring occupation by sacked workers), right up to the farce played out at Copenhagen, the reality of state capitalism's antagonism towards the environment is now obvious for all to see.
None of this makes climageddon inevitable, but it does mean that if we want a half decent world to live in for ourselves and future generations then we can't wait for our so called leaders to sort it out. It's down to us.
Something to think about while you're tucking into the steaming remains of a strangled turkey...
Happy Christmas, Chrismukkah, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Duckmass, Festivus, Hannukah, Hogmany, Holiday, HumanLight, Koruchun, Kwanza, New Year, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Winterval, Yalda and/or Yule!
Go forth and drink until you throw up your liver (but make sure you do it responsibly).
Previous years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004