And so, after crawling blindly back into the light of consciousness through the dark, dank alleyways of Kahlua-induced hangovers, we scan the news to see what of interest happened during the Commonwealth's only indigenous holiday.
Naturally, preachy socialists and Jesus-loving wimps expect headlines such as, "Christmas Day madness: Affluent Canadians descend on soup kitchens looking for homeless to feed". We get this instead, the "Christian" West at its evangelical, philanthropic best--showing those backward Muslims what an advanced culture looks like. God bless Canada, as our prime minister used to say (before deciding that kissing ass in agnostic but riding-rich Central Canada as a path to power was far preferable to sticking to religious principle and being a failure or martyr, like those silly primitive Papist losers).
The good news: Christmas--that ironic observance which manages to defile the only time of year when we're expected to be nominally civilised to each other by stressing, demoralising and disgusting us into being even more dreadful to each other than usual--has expired. Now we may begin the arduous task of recovering our humanity and re-discovering the capacity to treat our fellow children of Cain respectfully without the Pavlovian stimuli broadcast by the sickly-sweet emotional extortion and forced bonhomie designed by the marketing mercenaries who service Coke, Smirnoff and Apple.
For a start, we'll need to detox. We've all of us some kind of seasonally metabolised poison to purge. Perhaps it's the cyanide of having spent Christmas Eve with the redneck in-laws in Thunder Bay; perhaps it's the strychnine of having had to listen to two hours of Uncle Harry drunkenly reciting his best “Paki” jokes; perhaps it's the arsenic of realising that the just-hired executive assistant to whom you clumsily proposed a quickie in the photocopy room at the office Christmas party was, in fact, the boss's fiancée; perhaps it's the botulism of having been pulled over by the OPP whilst driving home from the aforementioned party and being forced to score Stephen Hawking's IQ on the breathalyser. Whatever your poison is, the sooner it's gone, the better.
My poison is the unassimilable psychic residue left over from toxic over-exposure to what today passes for Christmas carols. Whether it be Justin Timberlake drowning "Silent Night" in the giant cistern of a sewage treatment plant, Beyoncé Knowles running over "Jingle Bells" with the nose gear of a fully-fuelled Airbus A330, or Madonna bloodily dismembering "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" with a 24-bar chainsaw, there's hardly a once-bearable festive ditty that hasn't been mutilated beyond human tolerance for the sole purpose of providing to retailers a species of canned ambient music that bores within the shopping public an existential void so massive that we must anesthetise ourselves with reams of useless purchases before succumbing to the visceral urge to commit immediate suicide using whatever marginally feasible instrument of fatality we may find to hand. Not more than a few seconds of labouring under the devastating influence of Joan Jett's unlawful carnal knowledge of "O Come All Ye Faithful" need elapse before one is tempted to look upon the leather band of one's wrist-watch as a perfectly serviceable garrotte. Simultaneously, that $300 Gap t-shirt begins to look, like, totally irresistible.
My post-holiday purgative consists of listening to real music. Thus, to continue in the spirit of the subversively sacrosanct paganism I invoked a few days ago, I offer you what I think is a quite beautiful artefact from a musical passion of mine. My favourite, early-70's incarnation of the legendary Fairport Convention sings "Now Be Thankful" at a 1970 concert in Maidstone, Kent.
The song is a graceful hymn-like piece that one feels must be a Wesleyan devotional standard. In fact, it was written by a long-haired gaggle of ale-drenched North London twenty-year-olds. This soulful song by those agnostic, grass-smoking English kids always reminds me of the firm organic hold that faith has on the peoples of Europe and how easy it is to be an unconscious Christian there no matter how patently atheist one may otherwise be. Therein we see a profound mystery at work, and it explains, I think, much of the difference between the North American and the British/European world views. At any rate, it certainly explains why Voltaire and Bertrand Russell, apostates both, were closer to Christ than Pat Robertson and William J. Bennett will ever be.
For those who might prefer the production gloss of the song's official studio version, I append it beneath the live performance. Enjoy!