Christmas is the great 'romantic' season of the year - at least potentially. It is the season when enchantment is nearest the surface, strongest, most likely to cast its spell across the mundane.
And, of course, Christmas is a Christian celebration. Therefore it ought to be a fine time for the Romantic Christian...
That, at any rate, is the challenge. Because the 'traditional' romanticism of Christmas is generally immersive, un-conscious and passive: Christmas is too-often a time when we try to devise situations where we become overwhelmed by pleasure-inducing situations and stimuli; with an apparent intent to eliminate thinking and live only emotionally, instinctually - in a happy and comfortable present.
Yet this is only truly possible for young children - which is why childhood Christmases are regarded as the best, and why they cannot be recreated later*.
To know oneself to be un-consciously happy is an impossible paradox; so to the limited extent someone succeeds in achieving immersive Christmas goals (for example with the use of alcohol) then (by definition) he also abolishes his own awareness and memory of having done so.
To distort Socrates's phrase somewhat, the experience of most adults in these times is that "the unexamined Christmas is not worth living" - yet to 'examine' Christmas while living it is also to ruin it!
Thus, at best, adult Christmases become little more than shallow self-indulgence; unless a further and different attitude can be achieved.
What Socrates meant by the 'examined' life was not what the 2021 Romantic Christian means. For Socrates, living at the dawn of the era when the human soul became self-conscious, first able to detach itself from immersion-in the world; Socrates was asserting that it was Man's proper destiny to become more conscious - to step-back and examine life philosophically.
Socrates could advise this without fear of inducing alienation and despair in his pupils, because in Ancient Greek times it was not possible for a Man to detach himself fully from participation in the world. In other words, Socrates was such a natural romantic (he was a man who experienced living in an alive world, populated by real gods, and conversing regularly with a 'daemon' who guided him) that he could advise Men to be less romantic without disenchantment becoming a problem.
But we, in these times, find ourselves already detached from the world - the world has lost its sense of reality, seems relativistic, socially-constructed... For us, the mainstream, publicly enforced unromantic life is meaningless; and any 'purpose' applied to life is arbitrary and does not 'involve' us personally.
Thus to advise a modern Man to step out-from life and 'analyze' it philosophically, is to make an already-bad situations worse!
A modern Man who looked upon Christmas 'philosophically, or analytically, would miss all the good that the season had to offer. Certainly he would not be a Romantic Christian.
So, the examined life in 2021 is unavoidable; but if it is to be a good life (i.e. a life of meaning, purpose and one that we personally have a relationship with the world), then 'examined' must have a different meaning from the usage by Socrates.
That is, the modern era rules-out both unthinking 'pre-Socratic' immersion and 'Socratic' thinking detachment; and implies that we need a third and qualitatively different thing.
Christmas therefore can be regarded as a test case, an exemplar of life for the Romantic Christian. We want a romantic, a magical Christmas - and we want this romanticism to be real, honest and personal; not a failed pretense at reverting to childhood.
What should it mean to have an 'examined' Christmas, and an examined Life? What would it mean for any romanticism (of Christmas, or anything else) to be real - for adults, here-and-now?
This needs to be conscious (not unconscious), actively-chosen (not passively-absorbed); it needs to be thought (else it cannot be willed) - but thought with a kind of inwardly-originating and inwardly-driven thinking (i.e. intuition, heart-thinking, direct-knowing) that also consciously knows itself to be real.
In other words; for Christmas to be really-real - starting from a position of the actual alienation of modern adult man; we need to reconstruct our thinking on the basis of different and true metaphysical assumptions.
Instead of having passively absorbed the incoherent assumptions of modernity that thought is an epiphenomenon of the brain with no direct connection with anything outside the body; we need to recognize the truth that our thinking is an essential participant in all possible knowledge of the world and of our-selves.
There is, indeed, no reality without thinking; and no real reality unless this thinking is 'from' our real and divine selves - rather than merely being absorbed from the materialistic and demonically-dominated world of media, officialdom, law, 'science', etc.
In the end we come around to agree with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living; because for modern Man the unexamined life is... whatever incoherent value inversions and distortions have been put-into us by the Global Totalitarian Establishment.
But if we examine our fundamental assumptions and discover coherent and true assumptions - we will reach the Christian reality of romanticism.
And from this root, we can appreciate the worth of Christmas.
I am Not suggesting that you start wishing people a "consciously-participative romantic Christmas" or anything similar!
But we may be helped immediately and materially by awareness that the truths of Christmas are romantic truths; truths in which we are personally-involved, truths which we personally participate in creating.
And these truths are really-real - even when not as the literalistic summaries forced-upon us by language and the need for brevity; even when, to the world, these truths are 'nothing more' than manipulative cultural fabrications.
The really-real is wordless, direct knowing - and can be known only for-ourselves, from our-selves.
The knowing-heart is wiser than (either or both) mind and instinct.
*Parents of young children may - with the right attitude, and if they come to recognize what they are doing - be re-experiencing the joys of childhood Christmases; and in exactly the Romantic Christian way. For example; a parent can become the real spirit of the real Father Christmas; and also empathically identify with the child's immersive awareness of Father Christmas. But it is vital that this be regarded seriously, un-ironically, known as a deep truth of the real-situation. Mainstream modern cynicism about Christmas is fatal both to enchantment and insight; because cynical materialism is dishonest, hence un-real - thus demonic.
I'm happy, at least, that this "Santa Inc." thing is being called out and mocked.
And life as a mindless self-propelled stomach is not being lived at all really.
I say to my friend that I think Europeans would have gone totally insane by now if not for Christmas. I mean, we all know how insane Europeans have become already, and how bastardised and vulgarised the Christmas season has been; yet, the "magic" of Christmas is still alive and it creates a palpable change of feeling and sentiment in the social atmosphere. The reason I say we'd go insane without it, is that Christmas is the only thing left that gives Europeans a sense of form and structure to their lives as peoples outside of the material and meaningless; our entire year leads up to Christmas and it's our one opportunity in the year to experience a collective catharsis. I think we'd be totally adrift without it, having an even more zombified existence than we already have. When I say this to my friend I don't think he understands how precise and literal I mean it.
@Jack - Good comment.
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