THIS is primarily a political column. So, when the editor asked for a Christmas column—something light and Christmas-like, I realised he was subtly saying he didn’t want a political column. Not on Christmas day. I wondered what I would say on Christmas day that is not political. Or put another way, what does one say about politics on Christmas day that is not political?
If I had my way, writing about politics on Christmas day should be mandatory, since the man whose birth we observe today, was essentially a political man. And the very fact of his birth spurred political responses—Herod’s order to kill all little boys two years and younger. Yes, Jesus was born in politics and lived a very political life—fighting injustice at every twist and turn.
So, it is quite ironic that as we celebrate his birth, we tend to push politics into the background—we take leave of politics for the season. It is an irony that is best explained by the theologians and experts on the life and times of Jesus. Suffice to say, we go with the flow; we emphasise all non-political things this time of year. Everyone writes about peace and goodwill towards men—so why not me? You see, the origins of Christmas are Christian, but its celebration is beyond Christianity. Maybe, just maybe, it is the one time of the year that we come closest to dropping our ethnic guards. In that sense, every day should be Christmas day.
I actually like Christmas. Apart from the good food and drinks and the opportunity to be with friends and family in an atmosphere of love, you do get to see things you never thought would be possible. Only a few weeks ago we were shouting down each other in the National Assembly and vowing fire and brimstone. But today these very warriors greet each other in Jesus’ name. Oh, the power of Christmas to bring a bit of calm to the land. Maybe, we should have Christmas every day of the year.
You see all politicians and political parties share gifts to children—spreading the Christmas joy to all. And the children are happy to receive their gifts—why not? They get to see and feel their leaders and watch them smile and laugh—the children get to realize that these big bad and cantankerous people they see on TV, and in the parliament hollering for rape and beating policemen and abusing the speaker, are actually human beings. Their parents get to realize that the very people who talk about their children education and health care in strange other-worldly languages are really human beings after all. Maybe, they too wish that every day is Christmas day.
And then there are people like me, who grew up in the church, baptized there, confirmed there, took communion there and was an altar-boy right there, but who don’t go to church often these days. However, at Christmas we make the pilgrimage to church, looking holier than those who go every Sunday. We close our eyes and pray and ask God to grant us the discipline to go to church more often. You see, in my case, when the revolution that took me away from church is over, the church—the one foundation—is still there. You open your eyes and you are compelled by conscience to give a bigger collection than normal, because you are not there often enough to give regularly. I am sure that when the church elders see the larger number of worshippers, they too must be saying—every day should be Christmas day.
Christmas is not what it used to be when I was a boy or a young man. The smell is not the same. The pepper-pot and black-cake and garlic pork and ginger beer are still here, but they don’t taste the same. The elegance of yesteryear is gone—you no longer “dress to kill” for the Christmas parties, because the times demand a different dress code. Nostalgia, I know—but grant me that. The world moves on and so must we. But even as we move on, we tend to hold on to the past.
If Christmas partly means plenty to eat and drink and share, then some of us have Christmas every day. But for many, that Christmas symbolism is not even a dream. It is at times like these that we must ponder our reality—are we living up to the promise that Jesus’ birth brought forth? The commercialization of the Christmas season cannot be stopped, but surely it can be tempered. Christmas must never be a time to flaunt our material belongings. To the contrary, it must be a time of thanksgiving and recommitment to the ideals of the child in whose name we celebrate.
Merry Christmas to all.
More of Dr. Hinds ‘writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com. Send comments to email@example.com