A vague memory. Also, a little painful. To havelost the innocence. First, the story with the Christ Child. „The Christ Child brings the presents,“ I was told, as were millions of other children. And then they send you away, because Mama is cleaning up the tree and putting the presents underneath. You cannot see it. It is the first lie. Until you realize that we are celebrating the birth of the Christ Child. „Since when does the birthday child bring the presents, and then for the others as well?“ I asked, and got the answer, which is always quick at hand, if you have no other. „Because it is so,“ they say. How many times had I heard these, in a variety of contexts. Because there was no other. There could be no other. „Why is it necessary to build such a bold story of lies about a celebration that should celebrate life?“ I asked. „We have no time for such nonsense,“ I was rude ruled. It was never time. Not for the crucial things. I did not say that anymore, but I was thinking of something, something that I had to justify from the beginning to the end. Again, and again I met with incomprehension. „You cannot do that!“, they said. „You are destroying the children Christmas!“, was said. „I ruin Christmas for the kids because I’m not lying to them?“ I replied a little confused, „So I have to lie to my children?“
„Should I ever have children,“ I suggested in my teenage years, at a time when I had no idea if I would even have children, “so I would celebrate Christmas with them as I see fit, in any case, I would not lie to them.“
Many years later I actually had children, but I had not forgotten what I had in mind. From the beginning, the children were involved, as soon as they could be involved. It should be a celebration of joy and togetherness, from the beginning, starting with the first advent. Light candles to brighten the long winter evenings. To read stories. and drink cocoa in front of the fireplace. Crafting and painting. Singing and dancing. Bake cookies and conjure up this wonderful smell of apples and cinnamon in the house. A time of unity and connectedness. As far as possible. To take the time and save on the unimportant. To tell stories. Like that of a mother who was expecting a baby and giving birth in a manger. Expelled from the community. Marginalized, like so many these days. A story that is up to date at all times. There will always be those who are thrown out, pushed aside, like garbage. Nothing else was Joseph and Mary and Jesus. Out in the fields, between the shepherds. No part of the community of the well-to-do and decorumed ones. The doors tightly closed. Even today, we close the doors tight, so that probably that little family is turned away. It happens always and everywhere. Not only at Christmas. But that’s part of the story, which is all too easily skipped. „If I had not said, sorry, no place, the boat is full?“ I would have to ask myself then. This is scratching the ego, the self-image of the decent, morally honest person that I am. At least in my imagination, which I want to maintain, if necessary, by lying to myself and cheating on myself.
I have not left anything out, but always told the children everything. And when it was time to clean up the tree and place the presents, I did not send them away.
„We celebrate the birth of the Christ Child and want to make him a great birthday party, for the Christ Child, not the Christ Child for us,“ I told the children. So, they decorated the tree with me. Every year a little higher. Lumbering small hands, at first, which fastened with fiery straw stars and bells, tinsel and candles on the tree. Maybe it did not look perfect. But it was her contribution to say to the Christ Child, here you are welcome. That was good. And while others were sent intosome silly cartoons, we put the presents under the tree together. Not the Christ Child brings the gifts, but we express our joy that it was born. That’s why we give each other something.
As soon as the children came to kindergarten, they learned about other families. Again, and again I found myself confronted with mothers who reproached me with destroying everything if they revealed their lie. Not the lie was the bad thing to think about, but that I exposed them others of the other children as liars. Even the fathers. And also, all the others who joined in this game. I tried to explain. First. As so often before and probably after, I came across total ignorance. Frozen in their own ideas,they did not manage to even think about it. And the children, they could standup for themselves. Confident, they stood up for it without being confused. And it stayed that way. Until they left. It was good. What they took away were wonderful memories of a festival as it should be.
That’s what I thought when, on the morning of the third day of Advent, I stood by the window of Gods Cottage’s small, cozy kitchen and my hands held the cup of tea I had just made. Carefully, I took a sip. It was good. Comfortable warmth flowed through me as the storm raged outside the window. The ideal day to linger in the house. Past the diningtable, out of the kitchen, I went to the couch, which stood in front of the fireplace. A wide, inviting fireplace in which the flames twitched happily. The stone walls promised security, shielding against the inhospitable weather and other inconveniences. It was good to be here. A simple, banal being here, with the toes in front of the fire and the cup of tea in hand. Does it need more? And when it is no longer needed, why do we constantly let ourselves be persuaded that it needs more?
There were candles on the side table. There was not much decoration in the house. One or the other picture on the wall. Not more. However, it was a place that made me feel good, but this feeling of well-being depends not on the decoration or the interior, but on the spirit that lives in the house, a spirit of connectedness, acceptance and togetherness.
The children had moved out. They had grown up and lived their own lives. As far as you can ever lead your own life. As far as it is desirable and desirable to lead a life of its own. And finally, I thought at that moment in the light of the flickering fire, I also lied to them. Because I myself did not understand why we celebrate Christmas, when the message that goes with it is completely ignored.
„Behold a child was born to us,“ it said. Life itself, with all its elemental power and greatness, has given itself to us. We are too small for this gift, we cannot stand it. That’s why we focuson the nonessential. The baby that is so cute. The gifts that need to be bought. The death we have on our plates.
Just now, in memory, I had thought, hoping to approach, to the meaning of Christmas, I had thought to have taken a step in that direction, but with the step towards it, I realized more, especially the nonsense and the lie that prevails when it comes to love. That too was not the right way. Maybe it was time to look elsewhere.
And so, passed the third day of Advent. Passed by because he had to pass away, without significant events, in peace and quiet. In the prudence of a day that is nothing more than a day’s life. Nothing else. How many cannot even live that one day? Day-old chicks, for example, or female human children in India. Under such circumstances, we dare to celebrate Christmas, to splurge with having and to cram ourselves to vomit? I will not let go of those thoughts while others just close the door and leave it all out. As if it was none of their business. As if they had nothing to do with it. One can persuade oneself. But the meaning of Christmas cannot be it.