Afterthoughts on Christmas and history

Readers letter to the editor about some history at Christmas time

By George Jason

Early on Christmas morning, at 12:16 a.m. to be exact, I received a blog from the pastor of my church. Deep into the blog, he mentions that Christmas is not a fairytale. As I travelled south to celebrate Christmas with my wife’s family that morning, I wondered how many people actually believe the fairytale version of Christmas or at least assume that to be the case.

When I stopped for gas at Gasoline Alley in Red Deer on my way south that morning, I went into a gas station to buy nibblies for the journey. I greeted the cashier with a “Good morning” then said out loud: “it’s still morning, isn’t it?” Her response was you had quite a party last night, didn’t you” or something to that effect. I said nothing. Then she mentioned she hadn’t slept all night.

Assumptions quickly made about, my partying, for instance, made me wonder how many assumptions we make about important things.

On the drive south, I listened to a CBC broadcast of Handel’s two hour plus musical piece called the Messiah, an iconic piece written almost three centuries ago.

The music is inspiring and beautiful , essentially a retelling of the prophecies of Christ’s coming, his birth, his life, his death, his resurrection and his ascension to heaven.

How many of the singers, musicians and audience, I wondered, enjoyed the piece purely at the level of art and saw the story as fantastical as Orpheus’ journey to the underworld or like great Wagner operas mythologized in “The Flying Dutchman” on his operas in the “Ring” cycle.

What is fairy tale or myth or art and what is history?

All of them share some truths but how do we separate historical fact from the telling of it or is that a unique journey on its own terms?