by Alice Alessandri and Alberto Aleo There are just a few days to Christmas, a festival when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, but more universally, this is a moment when we take stock of the year and our relationships and take time to reflect. Tradition has it that the custom of exchanging gifts goes back…
It will be Christmas in a few days. Is this good or bad news? It depends on your point of view. For some people this is the most beautiful time of the year, while for others it’s nothing more than one of the many consumerist holidays invented by multinational companies to increase profits.
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Indeed profit and celebration, religious celebration in particular, are incompatible for some people.
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Some people also see hypocrisy in the Christmas metamorphosis which turns those who were, just a few weeks before, among the ranks of the most cynical and unscrupulous, into the ‘nice guy’. Without a doubt, these are excellent reasons for reflecting on the deeper meaning of this time of the year. That’s why we’re dedicating the last article of the year to all those who want to make peace with Christmas and with the various forms that it has taken over time.
The Christmas boom
It’s true, more is sold at Christmas! But is this necessarily a bad thing? Whether we like it or not, we live in a capitalist society that uses profit as an instrument for evolution and innovation. Companies use Christmas to increase their profits, and part of this return goes to the entire community, in the form of salaries and social development. As noted on many an occasion, ethics and sustainability, in an economic setting, do not only mean absense of pollution while respecting all players involved in the production process but also keeping alive the system so that it ‘sustains’ itself with an adequate cycle of input and output. If this weren’t so, we wouldn’t have productive fabric, professionals, and artisans, and companies wouldn’t pay salaries, innovation would stop and, in the long run, the entire community linked to it would deteriorate to the point of threatening the respect and dignity of each human being.
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When newspapers bring us good economic news we should be happy and grateful to live in this society, enjoying the harvest!
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The ‘tasteless’ good
It’s not clear why but some of us relate the concept of being ‘good’ with a certain lack of joy and zest for life. According to this attitude, for example, anything that is deemed healthy in terms of food must be a bit tasteless, everything good must be a bit sad, what is moral must be suffered, and ethical behaviour must be dictated by things that are forbidden, with emphasis on the don’ts as opposed to the do’s. Some blame Catholicism for this view but we need only remember that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water to wine during a banquet to see that even religion does not contrast joy with morality. Why then should a celebration lived with happiness and lightheartedness not be a good thing?
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It is true that, in life, the successes and the profound joys are often reached with effort, but even if the medal around the winner’s neck shines more because of the sweat than the brilliance of the gold, we must not forget that the smile is one of happiness and not pain.
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Thus we must not mistake the end, which for all of us is to be happy, with the means needed to reach it, which in some cases taste of effort, dedication, and discipline. So enjoy the holidays without too many worries!
A ritual to wake us up
Christmas is a ritual that repeats every year and thus it is a reason to celebrate something. For religious people the celebration is of course linked to the birth of Christ and, indeed, much of the iconography of this time of year centres on the image of the baby Jesus. And it is to this image we wish to turn your attention.
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Truly, that which each of us can celebrate with the ritual of Christmas, regardless of their religion, is having been a child or, if you will, our inner child.
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As many psychologists maintain, this intimate rediscovery, the rebirth of the most pure and innocent part of our spirit, is imperative for personal evolution. Accept it, play with it, make peace; all of it is a largely private experience, one of the most beautiful and fascinating inner journeys. But that’s not all. Becoming a child again also means sharing, confronting, being together, rejoicing, and celebrating with others, enjoying ourselves with carefree and healthy lightness.
We’ll end by sending you wishes and the hope that this Christmas and holiday period be exactly how you want it. So commit to transforming it until it becomes how you think it should be. All things, even a recurring event like this, have value because of the meaning we give them and dedication to making them into something beautiful and important. During the First World War, on the night of December 24, 1914 the bombing ceased and the soldiers crossed the trenches to give gifts to their enemies. This is just one of the events that remind us that Christmas is not just any other day, whether that be because so many important things happened on this date, or because no day should be ‘just any other day’ if we truly want to give meaning to our life.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all!
PS There are also those who do not enjoy Christmas because they are alone, perhaps ill, or in a condition that contrasts with the holiday spirit of this time of year. To them, we send all of our sympathy and affection.