On the matter of Christmas …

by DAVID BROWN | CLEARNFO.com | December 19, 2017

We have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas. Back in March of 2014, the love of my life and the mother of my children broke her neck in a car wreck, so that Christmas Amy was wearing a Halo after extensive neck surgery. Amy was one of the lucky 3% because 97% of the people with her type of injury are paraplegic or dead. Today, Amy is both alive and healthy; and doing very well thanks to the expert medical care she received.

Now Christmas means many things to many people. For some it’s about Christ and Christ only. Yet for many, it represents a time for family and gift openings, and watching the bright happy faces of their children; and for others, a lonely time that can only be filled with long-past memories of happier times … of children’s laughter and loved ones no longer at our side. For many it represents a lot of unnecessary work, effort and expense getting all the decorations up, gifts bought, fighting crowds and the resultant debt that follows. For others, it represents the commercialism of a sacred holiday where big businesses are trying to sell stuff we don’t need. For many retailers, Christmas brings their books from the red into the black; without which they couldn’t survive the other 11 months of the year. Still others see it as a big lie and a falsehood, an evil trick played upon naive children; and wish that as adults we should all come clean and be honest with our children to build their trust. Some see its history as a pagan holiday; having nothing at all to do with Christ, while others feign offense.

But for me, I love Christmas and the mythology that surrounds it … and I probably always will. Why? Because I have an entire childhood filled with wonderful feelings and memories about Christmas. In the interest of full disclosure– I was raised in a Christian home as a Christian and continue to this day a Christian; but for me, Christmas represented a special time of the year of bright lights, music, Christmas trees, stockings and presents and excitement, and oh did I love my childhood presents! Though my parents were of modest means, I almost always got exactly what I wanted from a 4-wheel drive ‘Mighty Might’, to real bow and arrow set, I have great memories. I had disappointments too. One year, I asked for a horse and I got one, but it was a rocking horse. My mother still has that old B&W photo of me on this rocking horse. In my disappointment, I told my mother that I wanted a “WEAL Horsy”. Years later I got my wish.

Now that I am an old fart and no longer a child, I enjoy Christmas even more. Because now I get to peer into the faces of my innocent grandchildren, as I once peered into my own children’s faces, and I see the joy and the happiness and anticipation on their faces; and magically I am transported back to my childhood.

Will our children discover there is no Santa Claus at some point? Yes they will. Will they be disappointed? Yes they will. Will they feel betrayed by those they should be able to trust the most? Perhaps, but give them time, and maybe they will realize the real meaning of Christmas as I did: that there are some profound gifts to be had in this mythology. The myth of Christmas has its roots in the love parents have for their children. It’s a ‘play-pretend’. It’s an event … it’s how we’d like things to be. It is –in the words of Joseph Campbell– an archetype deeply seated in the collective unconscious. It really doesn’t matter if you are Christian or not; or even if you are a bitter/happy atheist, we all share the same fundamental mental and physical makeup.

Most people believe that myths are just stories that are not true; some think a myth is a lie, but this is not true. Myths are a way of communicating powerful messages that bypass the critical mind. A myth is like throwing a message in a bottle past the conscious mind secured firmly into the subconscious, forever there to reside. These memories are what childhood is made of and provides our strength as we face our challenges through the bumpy road of adulthood. These important messages –these myths—are the message of love. The message is hope and the message is belief.  Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward men.

-David Brown

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