WHEN DID JESUS STOP GETTING INVITED TO HIS OWN PARTY?

The Nativity. Probably the last times Jesus got prezzies on his birthday.

You know what it’s like when your birthday is coming up, part of you wants a fuss and a part of you wants to keep it quiet that you’re yet another year older.

Well, up to maybe the age of 21 you want the fuss full-on, then with each year comes a decreasing willingness to engage. With women this tends to peter out completely after 29, beyond which life is deemed pretty much no longer worth living.

They may be healthy and have a rich life full of friends and holidays and a vibrant social life, but when they’ve been around for all of 30 years, they have convinced themselves that no man will be interested any more, ageing lines will break out all over their face like a street map of Peking, younger women will take their place and everything physically will collapse inwards and downwards.

And woe betide you if you tell them otherwise.

Yet for men, selfish of course by nature, they don’t hit this point until around 50, after which they compensate by trying to look younger, keeping up with the latest ‘bands’, and kid themselves they look great after a sudden burst of three visits to the gym and replacing a take-away with a vegan burger and a protein shake.

But just imagine for a moment if people threw a party for your birthday, but didn’t invite you at all? Say, just for arguments that your name was Chris. “Hey,” the conversation may go, “it’s Chris’s birthday, what present would you like for Chris’s birthday? Let’s take a few days off work, put out the bunting, and get hammered”.

Great idea, count all the family in. But don’t invite Chris.

Absurd, right?

But that seems to be increasingly the approach to Christmas. Though not a devotedly religious person I can’t help but notice that Jesus Christ seems to feature less and less in most images of Christmas.

THE CHURCH OF SANTA CLAUS?

Santa on the other hand must have got himself a great agent because he’s everywhere. I really mean, everywhere. Christmas cards, wrapping paper, films from 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street to 1994’s Bad Santa, anyplace you care to look in December you’ll come to face to face with Mr Claus. However, here’s the thing – and keep this away from the innocent view of anyone under the age of 7 – Santa ain’t flesh and blood. Not now, not ever.

Santa Claus. Don’t believe the hype kid.

To give an example of how the lines have become worryingly blurred, about three years ago I was asked to write a short piece for a charity advertising their Christmas card range coming out in August. Yes, that’s right, August. With it still being summer, in that piece I made a joke about Santa hanging around the bars of Magaluf. When the joke was left out of the piece I asked why and was told that it was omitted as it may offend people of a religious nature.

When I pointed out that Santa was not a religious character and therefore couldn’t offend anyone, I didn’t receive a response. I couldn’t help but ask myself if the fully grown adults who censored the line actually new who Christmas is really about?

I mean, the clue is kind of in the title.

However, does this even matter anymore? Have we now completely surrendered Christmas to be a commercial, fully consumer driven occasion and involving the birth of Jesus is no longer a sellable asset? With only 39% of Britons believing in God, should we even care?

Well that still suggests that 4 in 10 Christmas images should give at least give a nod to the man for whom it bears the name, but in the pack of 12 assorted Christmas cards I bought this week he didn’t feature in any. I think that is kind of odd, and a little bit sad.

Ah, well. Merry Santamas. Sorry, Merry Christmas!

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