By means of that technological marvel iPlayer, I have been able to catch up on all sorts of television programmes I would never have the chance normally to see. I have been watching The Hour. It’s a drama, set in the BBC’s current affairs department in the 1950’s, which is marvellous to watch; the acting is good, the script sharp and all the women impossibly glamorous in 1950’s chic. The problem, and there always is one, begins when our brilliant journalists (we know that they are good because they keep telling each other, and us, that this is so) venture out from Lime Grove and instead of talking about news, start actually gathering some, at which point they display all the acumen and subtlety of the Famous Five. Harry Potter could do better.
Why mention this? Because if The Hour is all appearance and no reality, it makes me think of what we have done to Christmas, a feast that has attained a marvellous surface gloss, in which we spend our time, preparing to celebrate, celebrating and indeed celebrating that we are celebrating, while giving ever less attention to what we are celebrating, and why. As a consequence, by the time we reach 25th December we are so exhausted with the effort that we stop just as thing should be getting started and we forget that we have all the time until Epiphany to think about what all this means. If the only meaning is the celebrating and gift giving, then the only meaning is ourselves, and when we get tired of ourselves then there isn’t much more we can do, apart from getting cross, or going shopping.
But there is much more, more to Christmas and more to us than this. Something happens to us, but we need to listen, watch, pray, think, in order to find it. Then we’ll have something to celebrate. Anyway, I must stop; I’ve just got time to catch up on the last episode of The Killing.
Have a happy, thoughtful, Christmas.
Benedictine Institute Albion Institute
© Ealing Abbey, copyright, 22 February 2013