Advent Firesiders

Christmas isn’t for children! (2017)

I know I must be beginning to sound like the curmudgeonly Ed Reardon, but I almost choked the day before Fireworks Night when I heard Mary's Boy Child on the radio; and it wasn't just because of what I said earlier about Christmas starting too early but because of two closely related reasons. The first is that the song is horribly sentimental, the second, because I was always forced to sing it as a child as a party piece to gatherings of elders. It was an annual imposition that I only broke out of when, asked to sing it at the age of eight, I broke into Lonnie Donegan's My Old Man's A Dustman which cast me into serious disgrace; but I was never asked again. I have the same feeling about The Little Drummer Boy, O Holy Night and Little Donkey and, although I love it dearly as a piece of music, I'm not at all sure why John Tavener's The Lamb has become a popular Christmas carol, at least with posh choirs.

I also regret the passing of a largely Medieval tradition of seeing Christmas and Easter as a seamless whole such that it would probably be regarded as bad taste to preach on Christmas morning about the Nativity as being the first chapter of a life story. Most people, after all, would not buy a biography and put it aside after the "Early Days" opening chapter.

I suppose the idea that I am reaching for is that Christian compromises, deliberate or glacial, with the secular world are never going to work; if we can't tell our own story then nobody is going to tell it for us, but I get the impression that we are ever increasingly leaning on the platitude that, after all, Christmas is for children which, of course, it isn't, it's for a single child.