Commitment-Phobe: Songs of yearning
Can lockdown Christmas have meaning?
‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’ is one of my favourite Christmas songs. We hardly ever sing it at our church because it holds this deep and true sad yearning. It is my song for this year. As we sit in another lockdown and listen to the news, trying to piece it all together, this song feels just right.
This lockdown has been called a way to ‘save Christmas’. Save Christmas? How can we save Christmas? What is it we need to save?
Can we save its meaning? The meaning of Christmas can never be lost, however it is celebrated. All religious festivals have deep meanings that remain true without the rituals that accompany them. So, what are we saving?
Feasts and parties and family get togethers and presents? This aspect of Eid was cancelled. This aspect of Diwali is cancelled. I am sure I missed out some other religious festivals too. Does this change their meaning? Is Christmas the pub crawl with friends? Is it the candlelit carol concert? Is it the mince pies and the TV marathon?
As I write this, I see a text from my friend: ‘How is lockdown for you so far?’ she asks. ‘Not much change for this hermit,’ I say. ‘It’s like Christmas,’ she says, ‘only I don’t have to visit the family!’ ‘Yes, it’s better,’ I say.
Toxic family gatherings, overconsumption, trying to make things right this one day of the year without working on it for the other 365 days. Is this the meaning of Christmas?..
Commitment-Phobe is a Christian
This is an extract from an article published in the December 2020 / January 2021 edition of Reform