Last Saturday I was queuing up to order a meal in a pub. It was a long queue. Christmas music was playing. Two men in front of me (about my age) were passing the time by talking about the next few weeks and all the end-of-year functions that they would be involved in.
They were laughing and carrying on with a degree of animated enthusiasm when, quite unexpectedly, one them said in rather hushed tones: “You know Tom, I really don’t like Christmas very much anymore. It’s different. Something has got lost”.
“Why’s that?” asked Tom.
“Hard to say. It’s not just one thing. It’s lots of little things. I don’t get cards any more; just text messages and little video clips of singing elves with the faces of my grandchildren.
And on Christmas day, if we can work out how to get together before everyone disappears for their holiday, we do KrisKringle now where we only have to think about a gift for 1 other person. We don’t cook a traditional roast anymore; just some vegan equivalent that’s good for the environment”.
“You’re sounding like one of those grumpy old men Jack”.
“I know. But it’s not grumpiness. It’s more a kind of sadness I think. All the party function stuff is fun and its nice spending time with people over food and drinks. But there’s a kind of emptiness about it all. What’s the point? It’s not nostalgia Tom. It’s more like that sentiment in The Castle. You know, where he talks about the Constitution and says: it’s the vibe of the thing. It’s the vibe.”
“I don’t sense the vibe anymore Jack”.
“Phew, says Jack, so what’s this vibe that you are trying to sense?”
“Hard to say Tom. I’m not a religious man. I used to be, but not anymore. I let go of all that virgin birth and shepherds and angels nonsense years ago. After Jenny died and the kids were small. But I find myself wanting to put some sort of religion back into Christmas again”.
“What would you like?, says the young woman behind the counter.
“I’ll have the roast of the day, says Tom.”
“I’ll have the mushroom risotto, says Jack”.
And the queue shuffles forward.
Peace and Good will.