It’s Christmas Day Again

This is the first year in my life that I did not celebrate Christmas. All my life, I’ve always had Christmas decorations, and I’ve always had particular habits – ‘customs’, if you like – that I have practiced on Christmas Eve.

This year, we didn’t put up any decorations, we didn’t put up a Christmas tree. The only thing I did was to light some tea lights around the living room during the course of the evening.

One of my ‘customs’ on Christmas Eve is to look back over the course of the year, and to thing back about years past. I did that, but this year there was no glass of wine or other favorite drink.

This time, it was a long cold gaze into the past, into the future and into the soul.

You could say that I celebrated Christmas in a new way for the first time. It was never really meant to be ‘consumer Xmas’, it was supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and he was certainly not born in a comfortable, middle-class home.

I think that, this year, I celebrated Christmas Palestinian-style.

So, to do that authentically, we had no Christmas tree, we had no good foods and drinks in the house, we had no security of status in our residential home, we had few good memories to look back on from the past year, we have no reassurance of bright prospects for the coming year.

About the only things we did have that many Palestinians don’t were four walls in each of our rooms and some heating in the house (thanks to global warming, we have not needed to switch on the heating in our apartment this year – being in an apartment block, sandwiched between a downstairs storey and an upstairs storey, and with good double-glazing and insulation, we’ve been heated for free by the neighbors).

There’s no good news at the moment.

We have another war in the Middle East, born from the interminable and seemingly-unbreakable spiral of violence and hate that exists there.

I hated hearing about the October attack by Hamas, with all the murders and kidnappings of Israelis.

I hate the terrible suffering that the Palestinian people are going through now as a consequence.

We have the war in Ukraine and the suffering of the Ukrainian people because of the whims of a de facto dictator, and his claim that Russia is fighting for existential survival.

I really feel for them. So, I’m dedicating my Christmas this year to the people of Gaza and the people of Ukraine, in solidarity.

We have a bad economic situation that’s going to be exacerbated by the influence of artificial intelligence.

And, of course, we have the fact that we are continuing the environmental destruction.

So 2023 was not a year to be simply drowned out by stuffing our guts with too much food, getting drunk and getting stoned.

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