As the “Keep Christ in Christmas” crowd gears up for another Yuletide season, its capitalistic brother wonders about how good Christians will shop during a pandemic. We’re not great materialists in my house, and our holiday spending tends to be modest. Even so, the stocking stuffer is the kind of thing you find while browsing in stores. I don’t feel comfortable indoors with strangers now. Apart from groceries and hardware I haven’t been in any kind of store for at least a month now. How to get ideas for those little, often inconsequential gifts that are demanded by homage to Saint Nicholas? The holiday season is a wonderful amalgamation of differing traditions that should, in a perfect world, suggest openness to all and inclusivity. At least this year we have that to look forward to.
Inclusivity is a gift worth giving. Many of us are weary of the privileged “angry white man” who has held control of just about everything for the past several centuries but is still never satisfied. The holidays around the winter solstice—itself the marker of days finally beginning to lengthen again—should be a symbol of the many traditions that make Christmas what it is. There is no one “pure” idea of what this season represents (beyond shopping) because people all over have traditionally welcomed the return of light after many days of darkness. Sometimes that darkness of exclusivity can last for years. Now that we are beginning to spy a sliver a light on a distant horizon perhaps we can see enough to correct the error of our ways. Perhaps.
That still doesn’t solve the dilemma of pestilence-filled stores where people want to huddle inside because it’s cold out there. I can’t seem to recall where they hung the stockings in the manger, but surely they must’ve been there. It’s how to fill them that’s the issue. Our world has become so virtual. How do you put streaming into a sock? How do you stuff that cuddly subscription service into hosiery? In a pandemic we’re reaping the fruits planted by a technologically-based society. The art of browsing hasn’t been electronically replicated. It’s the moment of inspiration in that curiosity shop that seems to be missing this year. Most of us, I suppose, would be pleased to find a vaccine in our carefully hung stocking. At least a government that takes the threat seriously will be something to anticipate. Just a little longer, and the light will be coming.