Not everyone likes Christmas. Apart from the many all over the world who don't share its central beliefs, there are a fair number of "bah humbug-ers" who could not be bothered with the trappings, trees or gaudily wrapped packages, far less the sentiments of peace on earth, goodwill to all men. And it is hard to disagree sometimes - with all the strife and anger and scheming in the world, right here in your own homes, neighbourhoods too.
But the spirit of Christmas is really about hope. It is the wish for a countervailing dynamic - peace, joy, contentment - against what it takes to live in the world. So whether you are hungry, or angry, underpaid, passionate and impatient about change, comfortable but still feeling low; whether there is plenty or sadness, this is what life is.
Just imagine. You are a mother whose child had to be born in a barn, warm with the smell of animals and manure. Only your companion - not even the child father - to help. You are cold, but on the move, because you hear there are soldiers coming to kill all sons under a certain age. When you do settle, there's a time of contentment when the boy is growing and playing and being as boys will be. But he is grown to be a man now - going into the world and returning as grown sons do. You cannot see the future. All you do is enjoy him in the present. He is bigger than you and comes to visit, picks you up and spins you around, laughing at your surprise! He has gifts, and he stays a week or two. This is the spirit of Christmas. This tiny respite - relaxation and rest - to laugh, to have meals together, to enjoy quiet conversations, to have hope. Because you cannot see the future, you cherish the good fortune of this time together, hoping it will bolster your child - against the cold, the tiredness, the pain, the just living, or dying, that is to come.
So yes, you can have Christmas at any time. But Christmas at Christmas is always to be celebrated!