The father of Christmas, December’s paternal watcher, glides through the night. Blooded in green and red, driven by horned beasts that pedal the air with cloven hoofs. If you listen right, you may hear the bells on the wind.
Outside ghouls ice the windows. The wind chases itself through the skeleton trees. On high the moon hangs huge and fat in a nest of ink. Perhaps we will be gifted with the white rug coming down, perhaps not, but all truths of Christmas remain in our heart and our memories, and we can bring these forth in nostalgia, in movies and music, in simple sights and inventions, and in possessions by those Yule spirits that infest even common wood and stone with mulled fireside haunt.
Think of A Christmas Carol, and think of It’s A Wonderful Life. Think of Dickensian London, with snow on every day, feathering down onto black top hats and bonnets, feathering into the mass quilt. Drifts of Yuletide carols pass around gloomlit corners, hang under streetlamps and tip-toe the cobbles.
Think of good things in your life, things that have happened long ago and were good then and will always be good, and good things that will yet come to pass.
If you do not celebrate or officially recognise Christmas, enjoy your own festivities whenever they occur in the year, and leave others to theirs. Do not seek to ruin things that bring others joy or meaning.
Do not focus too much on semantics, or past meanings. The origins of things are never clear cut, nor are they often what they seem. Now, you make your own meaning. Christmas can be as religious as you like, but it need not be so necessary for others. Things change. Things are always changing. Whether your celebration be Christian, pagan, or secular, it is at its heart a festival about sharing.
Yes, you can never hear it enough: Christmas is about sharing; company, food, drink, gifts, cards, love, laughter, and life.
Do not think too much on the commercialisation of Christmas. Where there are gifts to be bought there is always money to be made. Think instead on those receiving such gifts. And remember, the thought is what counts.
To give is to receive.
November is old age, and December is the death of the year. Christmas is the year’s deathbed. A deathbed is no place for grievance, for old hate, for worry, for hubris. It is a place to forgive, to make amends, to make the most of what is left to you.
Hold candles to keep the darkness at bay, or embrace it as an old friend.
Take the time to be thankful for the good things.
If you have a home, be it costly, dirty, and broken, on this day be thankful.
If you have food, be it cheap, tasteless and out of date, on this day be thankful.
If you have a friend, be them unreliable, stubborn and offensive, on this day be thankful.
If you have family, be them difficult, irritating, and stuck in their ways, on this day be thankful.
If you have health, be your nose running, your body exhausted and your head aching, on this day be thankful.
Baubles and tinsel, multi-coloured jewels that glow on green needles. Presents wrapped in bows and glitter huddle together for comfort, gifts awful and brilliant, asked for and unwanted. The December Father looks in at the windows, nods his head. He pulls away the sprites with big eyes and sharp teeth, who remain outside under the knives of winter. You’re under his protection now, just for now, before he retires to his polar battlements, sailing long over seas where blue tentacles of northern Cthulhus whip the waves.
Drink, eat, and be merry.
Do not be an island among islands – calm usual angers and encourage good feeling, good sentiment. Remember the unspoken charities: charity to family, to friends, to strangers and to enemies. Charity can be in mere words.
Reach out. Make effort where you did not before. Think about the lives of others, even those you do not know so well. Think that, at our core, we all share the same experiences: those of life, love, strife, hurt, loss, and confusion. Give a present or card to someone you never gave a present or card to before. A gift does not have to be big or expensive; it could be homemade, and it need not even be a material thing at all.
People want, and need to be thought of, especially at this time of year. Tell someone you love them, you like them, that they are a good person, that they deserve happiness and if you had it in your hand you would give it to them first.
I am a misanthrope most days of the year, and regularly filled with pessimism, cynicism and frustration, and I do not really know what non-romantic love is, and yet on this day I love you all dearly.
If you are with others on Christmas, treat them as well as you are able. Pass over your differences. When a tongue should be held, hold it. When laughter should flow freely, free it.
If you are alone on Christmas, remember that not even in the darkest and most silent of times is there such a thing as true loneliness.
Put your ears to the floor, and listen. Listen carefully.
Do you hear it? Do you feel it?
They are awake, and they are listening back.