Christmas is a tense time, as people spend money they do not have on rubbish they don’t need and, worse still, must often consort with people they would prefer to avoid.
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Christmas Comes but Once a Year, which first appeared in 1936, when some dude vandalised an orphanage’s furniture to make its inmates toys for Christmas, is part of a genre that stretches from the maudlin work of Charles Dickens down to Home Alone, a Hollywood blockbuster that starred former POTUS Trump.
This trend was more recently epitomised by Fairytale of New York, a wonderful song about two losers, sung by Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan, whose funeral mass is on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is one of many feasts honouring the Mother of God and which, as in Saidnaya, Syria, on September 8th, joins the Churches of the East and of the West. It is that multi-stringed and multi-faceted unity and Zelensky’s forlorn efforts to break it that form the motif of this article.
Yes Virginia. There Is a Santa Claus
So ran a famous American editorial at the end of the nineteenth century. And, it seems, Santa has a cousin, Ded Moroz, in Russia, who prances about its multiple time zones, leaving presents for children under their New Year trees and helping to put smiles of delight on their faces.
Let’s hope Zelensky’s thugs do not murder him, like they murdered those Russian soldiers last New Year’s Eve. What with sending pregnant women into battle, there is enough karma coming their way as it is.
Not only do the Russians have their own minor variations of Yuletide global traditions and rituals, such as fasting and jumping into frozen lakes (no thanks), but they are not, at heart, that different from our own. Though Russians, along with the rest of the Orthodox world, currently celebrate Christmas on January 7th, that will change to January 8th in 2100 when, thankfully, Zelensky will be long dead and his efforts to hijack the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches will be memory holed, along with the rest of his rotten Reich. Although Zelensky could decree Hitler’s birthday as Christmas Day, because he cannot change the inner thoughts and traditions of those he persecutes, he cannot and will not kill the Orthodox Christmas.
That Was the End of Paddy Public Enemy Number One
Do yourself a favour this Christmas and watch Fairytale of New York. And then watch MacGowan sing Paddy Public Enemy Number One, a raucous ballad about notorious IRA/INLA gunman Dominic McGlinchey, which is both truthful and, given the jig it is played to, funny and irreverent at the same time.
Not a Christmas song, it is true, but then Joyeux Noël, a movie about German, French and Scottish troops, together with some Danish chick, observing the 1914 Christmas truce, is hardly your typical Christmas fare. The acting is superb and the fear on the faces of the soldiers is palpable, albeit not as horrifying as the fear and absolute terror the defenceless, little children of Gaza currently live through (if they don’t cop it).
The upside of that movie is it shows the ordinary soldiers have a lot in common with each other, not the least of which is the desire to be back home for Christmas with their loved ones waiting for Father Christmas, Father Frost or whoever it is to pop by.
Although the British, French and German High Commands in Joyeux Noël were having none of that ceasefire malarkey, we can rest assured there will be no recurrences. The rump Reich seems determined to fight on to the last pregnant woman and Israel seems determined to slaughter its way into history’s record books as the vilest criminals of all time.
Oh well, never mind. The Pope will parrot his lines on Christmas morning, as will King Charles, Biden and a few other nobodies. Truth is, our ears will be cocked to see what gems Nasrallah might drop. That is the changing face of Christmas.
But some things do not change. Over 40% of annual books sales occur at Christmas and, just as Fairytale of New York would make a good stocking filler, so too would James Joyce’s Dubliners, whose last story, The Dead, is set on Christmas Eve and is widely considered to be the finest writing in the English language.
If you want to be really brave, you might skip Joyce and try to get your hands on Tolstoy’s Where Love Is, God Is Also, or Dostoyevsky’s The Heavenly Christmas Tree, great stories both, though Dostoyevsky’s is replete with his trademark darkness which, given his genius, has its own eternal brightness and both those geniuses, are Russians, orcs as the Ukrainian book burners call them.
O Christmas Tree
Christmas, in the Catholic world, is a tense time, as people spend money they do not have on rubbish they don’t need and, worse still, must often consort with people they would prefer to avoid. As the Americans have us deluged with their vacuous Black Friday consumerism cult, that is not surprising. Christmas Day itself is now one of the year’s busiest days for online shopping.
Even the stupid Christmas trees themselves now take centre stage, with the BBC publishing nonsense about them. For my part, I prefer simpler things, watching the poor put on a splendid performance in the southern Philippines, playing Santa Claus (or did I play Ded Moroz?) in Mexico, remembering and writing to political prisoners (there are so many forgotten ones now) and, further back, to happy youthful days, when December 8th, MacGowan’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the anniversary of the Mountjoy Executions, would see the start of the festive season, when farmers and their families would hit the big smoke for their big day out, when Christmas put a rhythm and compass to the winter and where, in MacGowan’s words, “we shat in the fields and pissed out the front door. This is not a hard luck story – this is telling you how much fun it was!”
Though I was in Camden for Malcom McLaren’s funeral, I am unsure if I will watch MacGowan being driven through Dublin on his way home to Tipperary so far away, before his remains are scattered in the broad majestic Shannon.
Not that it matters because, if Tolstoy’s Where Love Is, God Is Also has any truth in it, MacGowan and his Fairytale of New York will be as eternally beloved as God, Virginia’s Santa, Dostoevsky and the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, and Zelensky and his army of press ganged pregnant women will not change that one iota.
Cold Christmas comfort for the Kiev goons and their Beltway bosses perhaps but then they and theirs never believed in Santa, in God, in Love or in anything else they could not milk for crass profit.
And so this Christmas, let’s pray for our own forlorn fairy tale, that Biden and his crew will muzzle their Ukrainian and Israeli goons and that the children of Ukraine, Syria and Palestine might, like those soldiers in Joyeux Noël, enjoy some small semblance of peace and goodwill as, like generations before and after us, we give “Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to men of goodwill”. We live in hope.