Joy to the world
I realised a long time ago that I owed my life to Jesus Christ. Seriously. And no, I'm not going all Lady Saw, even though I will volunteer to help her do the Lord's work out on Back Road.
As much as I wish I were making a confession of faith, I'm not. By and by, that's a work in progress, and as every potter knows, some clay is tougher than others. But what I actually mean when I say that good old JC is my Creator is something more down to earth and literal.
It's a simple matter of mathematics. You've heard about that famous Christmas bulge in births, where the belly begins with the festivities of the Yuletide season and then ripens up in September? That's right. I'm one of those. And, in fact, there are many such in my family.
Obviously, it's the most wonderful time of the year and the happiest season of all! In fact, studies have shown that Christmas Eve is the most popular time to conceive, so I'm right near the middle of humanity's statistical flood.
And since Christmas has done so much for me, I reckon I should do a little something for Christmas in return.
One thing is to enjoy Christmas. God spare, this will involve carolling the old chestnuts in a country church. At this point, there are special moments I wait for in the Jamaican rendition of the Christmas songs:
"Silent night, holy night, all is
calm, all is bright;
Round, young Virgin, Mother and
"Goats tell it on the Mountain,
over the hills and everywhere!
Goats tell it on the mountain,
that Jesus Christ is born."
And the songs don't have to be religious either. We still stamp it with our flavour:
"Jeff's nuts roasting on an open
Jack-Frost nipping at his hose."
Anyway, another thing is to defend Christmas from the killjoys who derive some perverse pleasure from pointing out that there were, and are, pagan festivals at the winter solstice. So what? Why wouldn't that be entirely expected?
Let's review. The winter solstice is, in the Northern Hemisphere at any rate, the day with the shortest stretch of daylight and the longest stretch of darkness. It's bleak and depressing. If you've ever lived through a winter in a snowy part of the world, there's likely ice on the ground outside. Yes: Ice! Not in your drink, depending on your preference, chilling the rum or the Kool Aid, but on the ground outside trying to creep into your hut and grab you by the heart and freeze you to death.
And let's recall a few salient facts. The onset of winter for ancient man wasn't like how we experience it today. His house wasn't as sturdy. His clothing wasn't as well stitched, and it certainly wasn't lined with goose down or some synthetic equivalent. His fuel for fire was what he gathered by the sweat of his brow.
His storage of gruel was likely skimpy. His medicine was primitive, and simple infections incubated, then spread by too many people huddling in a small space together, could spell death. The life of man was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Is it so surprising that during this darkest time, ancient man contrived to celebrate a festival of light, drink grog, gather together, and make babies?
TIME OF UNCERTAINTY
The winter solstice would have been an excellent time to gather with those you care about because, frankly, there was no certainty that you were going to make it through the frigid hell that had descended on the earth to stay for the next few months.
That's how people are. If we know that a monstrous disaster is coming to get us, we gather the people we love, then we pray and party. And that's what winter was. Winter meant that a lot of people were going to be hungry, and that many would starve and get sick and die. If it was a particularly long, cold, or harsh winter, you could wave ta-ta to the old people and young kids.
But these are thoughts applicable to the meanest pagan. How about those of us blessed enough to have been born in the dominions of Christendom?
And Christians would choose to celebrate what they call "the Light of the World"? Every year round about now, we have to hear that it was unlikely that Jesus of Nazareth was born in December, etc., etc., etc. This bothers some people, and every year we have to suffer the tedious explanations from these curmudgeons. Yawwwwn! Really? Who cares? It's as good a date as any to celebrate, and as I've been pointing out, a better date than most other alternatives.
If you have a problem with that, you just might want to spend a little quiet time over there in the corner with the thought that you're likely a jerk or a moron.
Incidentally, nowadays, we typically sit around, overfed and bored, complaining about serious deprivation from not getting the right brand of watch or sneaker we've been praying for. But we are, most of us, if we are reasonably well fed and in satisfactory health, wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of our near ancestors.
I'm not judging anyone, just pointing this out. I mean, here I am noting all this wintertime suffering, but yet still, even when it's 80 degrees outside, I don't only expect a steady stream of clean water, but it'd better be hot water, goddammit!
• Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.