Should we cancel Christmas?
In this age of cancel culture, every year I’m pleasantly surprised to see that Christmas has survived.
The modern battle against Christianity is not a frontal assault -- but it is slowly succeeding. Christmas trees will not get the chop all at once; rather they will be subjected to a series of strategic prunings. The promotion of issues like diversity and multiculturalism appear designed to wrong-foot critics and make Christians look like antediluvian obstructionists.
Christmas is far too popular to be cancelled, but critics are trimming around the edges, usually by advancing the claim that Christmas must be restricted lest it offend someone.
This is despite a lack of evidence that it is offensive, prompting the suspicion that Christians celebrating Christmas only offends the professionally offended. Of course, outside the woke Western bubble, poor non-white Christians are being offended (slaughtered, actually) by Islamist terrorists, but in that case, to the wokerati, black lives don’t matter.
If truth be told, there are many offensive things in Christmas. First of all, it is “Christ’s Mass”. In the 17th century Cromwell’s woke brigade saw the connection clearly and banned Christmas altogether. Today’s woke brigade might object to Father Christmas as too male and insist on promoting Mother Christmas. But then again, motherhood is offensive to women…
Santa Claus is also “too white” (if you ignore the crimson blush of his nose and cheeks). And snowmen are both too white and too male. Woke animal right activists would denounce flying his sleigh around the globe in a single night as cruelty to reindeer. Not to mention woke pro-Palestinian activists objecting to the celebration of a Jewish birth in the “disputed territories”. And the population controllers are horrified at celebrating the birth of a baby.
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G.K. Chesterton was well aware of the danger of fashionable ideas, although in his day bizarre obsessions were confined to a few cranks. But he warned that when people say that an idea is “only in the air”, that is the best time to parry a blow – when the hatchet is still in the air.
Chesterton was a great fan of Christmas and defended it with all the zest of his poetry and paradox. “When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time,” he wrote. “Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?”
Even if Christmas were no more than a fairy tale, we need fairy tales as much as we need water, air, and mince pies.
In his own time Chesterton warned against those who would ban fairy tales because they are scary and unrealistic. But, he said, children are not afraid of fairy tales for the simple reason that they were born into a fairy tale: into a land of giants who can perform magic, who can illuminate a room by a mere movement of the hand; who can restore order to chaos; who can save them from starving; who can rescue them from being trapped in their own sweater.
As to being frightened by stories of dragons – a fear still entertained by progressive parents -- he said that children already know that there are dragons; they just need to know they can be slain.
Chesterton believed that in fairy tales there is a deeper layer of truth; he would surely say that fairy tales protect us from the worst excesses of wokeness – that they provide us with weapons to slay the woke dragon. The tale of the Emperor’s new clothes points out the blindingly obvious – that a man is a man and a woman is a woman; the tale of Chicken Little reminds over-excited greens that the sky is not falling down when an acorn falls on their head.
And in an age when we are told that the wolf is misunderstood and that the real danger is the grandmother; when we are constantly urged to overstep the mark in the interests of personal freedom and choice, the story of Cinderella can teach us the vital value of boundaries. She had to return by midnight or break the spell and lose everything. The real lesson is that patient virtue wins in the end; that we cannot steal the magic but must respect its rules.
If the wokerati had a magic wand, I am sure that they would use it to wave away the reason for the season. But hopefully the magic of Christmas will overcome their pet preoccupations, especially as “good will to all” is such an inclusive message.
Christmas is surely the holiday we need from woke madness, when we worship the weak and put down the powerful from their thrones. A little harmless nonsense is just what we need to restore what Chesterton prized so highly -- our common sense.
And to anyone who says otherwise, with Scrooge, we can respond: “Bah! Humbug!”
Ann Farmer writes from the United Kingdom.
Image: Pixlr AI art
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