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By unknown | Dec 11, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

The silly season is on us, but if the words from popular Christmas carols are anything to go by there is nothing silly about this season.

The silly season is on us, but if the words from popular Christmas carols are anything to go by there is nothing silly about this season.

Instead, according to the carols, this is "the season to be jolly" and a time for "joy to the world".

Christians look on this season as a time for deep reflection and a celebration of the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Though traditionally a Christian holiday, Christmas is widely celebrated by many non-Christians. Some of its popular celebratory customs have pre-Christian or secular themes and origins.

Regardless of our religious beliefs - or lack thereof - we are all affected by Christmas in one way or another.

It can be a stressful time for some because it means long hours in the company of the whingeing mother-in-law who undermines you at every turn and insists that she can do a better job of taking care of your partner and children.

Let's not forget the drunk uncle with moist pink lips and breath that smells like a tobacco factory or a brewery! And it is always this uncle who is most affectionate and assaults you with hugs and kisses. Sies!

The anxiety of this period can also be caused by money and the pressure to be extravagant. Many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity.

The holiday has become a commercial event. It would be wise to remember that there is no point in "spending money we don't have, to buy things we don't need, to impress people we don't know".

There are variations of this quote, but whoever coined it said a mouthful. These words are particularly poignant as the world economy still tries to crawl out of a crippling recession.

And then there is the gloomy matter of our roads being turned into blood baths. For some reason, some drivers see this period as a licence to be at their most impatient and negligent. The carnage on our roads fills our news bulletins and each accident is gorier than the one before.

A friend of mine insists that travelling at this time is an exercise for masochists who are intent on speeding up their deaths. She is probably right, but I like to be driven by the words of American guru Leo Buscaglia, who says life is about taking risks because "the person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live".

This is also a time for new beginnings. A time to discard what has retarded our growth as individuals and as a collective. It is the perfect time to reassess our values and strive to be better human beings. Our democracy continues to grow, and the turbulence of these growing pains has been felt in many ways.

What stands out as one of the biggest disappointments of the year is the spending spree and materialism of some ministers. Not only should they have done more to uphold their election promises, but they should have been more sensitive to the needs of poor South Africans who have been waiting for a better life.

Even those of us who are privileged to work and feed our families, have had to exercise prudence and maturity in managing our budgets. It is a vicious slap on the face when leaders do the opposite.

The level of debate has also been disappointing in some respects. We have seen a disturbing trend of inflammatory rhetoric that does not deal with the merits of the issue but instead personalises and racialises debates. In 2010, I would like to see a more constructive way of engaging with matters that affect us all.

But the year has not been all gloom and doom, and there are many glorious events to look forward to. May 2010 be a magical year where we all, in our small ways, put South Africa first.


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