Fairy lights, Carols, Turkeys, tears and tantrums, presents and crackers — but what does it all MEAN?

 

Christmas. That one day during the year when we can walk down the street and observe virtually no cars or people. Everything is closed, everything is quiet, and if we’re very lucky we’ll be treated to a magical snowy scene (I know, wishful thinking). But that’s not quite what Christmas is though – just one of its perks.

The question of what Christmas actually is remains an interesting one. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, clearly felt that there was something mysteriously perplexing about the whole affair, why else would he sing: ‘What does it mean?/What does it mean?’, referring to that festive day which escaped his ‘… bony fingers … /Like a snowflake in a fiery grip’.

If we follow the same method of reasoning as the 18th century Scottish Philosopher, David Hume and approach the question slightly differently by asking: what remains of Christmas if we take away the usual associations, such as celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with food and drink and gift-giving, what indeed are we left with? Imagine there is no Christmas tree, no party to have or family to go to, and no commercials or special Christmas programmes and shop promotions to remind us that this is the season to be all jolly and generous. If we take all that away, I believe we’ll be left with what Christmas truly means: Hope.

Hope is something we are all capable of experiencing. It is a feeling of optimism and expectation, a secret wish that you nurture and believe in that makes the day a little brighter. Because of its simple nature children are usually the best vessels of hope. Its presence lets them experience joy in the little things, like a ray of sunlight or a sandpit. Think back to your childhood; remember that elated state of joy you carried not knowing why exactly? That was the hope in you – and coincidentally our elusive ‘Christmas spirit’.

Now hope is not something that requires us to be religious, or to be Christians or heterosexual, or tick any particular criteria come to think of it. The birth of Jesus signified hope that there was divine protection and mercy. Likewise, each of us has something they can always hope for, however big or small. Some of us hope for love, others for money and another may just be hoping that things will improve. Maybe we’re all secretly hoping that for this one short day we can feel a little better. Better about ourselves and our circumstances, about our family and friends; let go of our worries and anxieties and just be more peaceful, even if it doesn’t come easy.

Today, all of us at Shout Out UK would like to wish everyone (and we mean Everyone) a very Merry Christmas filled with hope!

 

By Diana Aganey