Such a fuss over a birthday. From menorah to manger….get a good fable with powerful metaphors, tie it into the solstice and tell it often enough so folks take it literally and you have a religion.
It didn’t hurt when Charles Dickens gave us some cozy images and Hallmark cards smelled a good idea. Then drag out a few choice words and phrases just for the occasion like Merry and Jolly and peace on earth.
Buffy St. Marie sang this song 40 years ago.
Merry Christmas, jingle bells
Christ is born and the devil’s in hell
Hearts, they shrink, pockets swell
Everybody know but nobody tell
I don’t want to think that hearts shrink. It has become a secular holiday of gift-giving and partying, maybe even a pause in combat and some familiar songs.
Here’s a poem I wrote a while back which fairly well sums up my sense of the holidays.
Jesus, it’s the anniversary of you.
Time to mark the day in our neo-pagan way
With our hemisphere un-leafed
we drag in the remaining green
and illuminate our shortest days
with menorahs, glitz and fallen stars.
We look for you in other J.C.s……
Joseph Campbell, Jacques Cousteau,
Judy Chicago and Joseph Cornell
Irving Berlin’s on Musak again
and Wenceslaus is in the elevator.
The money-changers are loose.
Cash registers toll while politicians
rant about good will and the robed men
who made you into Julius Caesar
mumble in their edifice.
Jesus, you look weary. Forgive us
for the misdeeds done in your name
and your early subversion we have bungled.
Just tell me this….did we get the story right?
Are you a man, nothing less?
A Jewish-Christian, Jimminy Cricket,
Jeepers-Creepers, Jellico Cats,
juicy cantaloupe, jeweled constellation?
From your manger in a cardboard box
by the off-ramp
come silence the night, halt our traffic
so we might pause and wake
with astonished eyes, re-seeded
for another go round as if
in a haloed world, as if
with turned cheeks, as if………