Christmas isn’t for everyone, and Christmas as a Christian Holiday vs. an excuse for rampant consumerism seems to be on the decline, but it can be a truly wonderful time of the year. For my family it’s a time of good music, good food, and spending time with people that matter. Unlike many who spend the holidays with large gatherings of extended family, it’s just my parents and me in this country, so we don’t have large family gatherings (of our own) to attend. However over the years we’ve been adopted by friends who include us in their family celebrations. We’ve now been celebrating Christmas day with these friends for well over a decade!
Different things “make it Christmas” for different people. For some it’s Grandma’s cookies or hanging a special ornament on the Christmas tree. For others it’s a specific Gospel reading, or a certain Christmas song or carol. While I’m not sure it’s what “makes it Christmas”, listening to King’s College Choir (Cambridge England) Festival of Lessons and Carols is a wonderful Christmas tradition.
Here is the 2010 Festival
Christmas music is always a reminder to me that natural selection is everywhere. The Kings College Festival is always a lovely combination of old and new. It starts with “Once in Royal David’s City”, a carol that has been around since the mid 1800s, and includes other traditional pieces as well as some modern compositions. Some of the modern stuff is great, and will be carried on by future choirs for generations to come, others will disappear into the archives- deemed “not quite good enough” to make it into the hallowed halls of “Christmas Greats”.
The old carols that we still sing today have gone through many rounds of natural selection- I am sure there were plenty of carols written in the 1800s that aren’t around today, but the ones that have made it this far are good- they hit a chord with the listener, whether the listener is religious or not. They fire our neurons in ways that make us want to hear them again, next year, and for generations to come.
Natural selection is still ongoing. It’s the reason “In dulci jubilo” has been around for over 600 years and “Funky, Funky, Christmas” is (hopefully) on it’s way to obscurity (though it will perhaps be immortalized on youtube).
And now- since I can’t think of any sensible segue from “Funky, Funky Christmas”, I will just make the following bold statement: I bet Jesus didn’t have asthma.
I bet he wasn’t allergic to peanuts either.
I’m not here to debate whether Jesus existed, but I do think it’s worth thinking about the fact that anyone who WAS born in a stable is probably on the way to a robust microbiome and an appropriately occupied immune system (i.e.- not over active and causing asthma and allergies). Since he was a vaginal delivery, lived in an age before antibiotics, and was exclusively breastfed (no formula 2000 years ago!), I expect Jesus had an admirable gut flora indeed!
And with that, dear readers, I wish you a happy (and merry) Christmas! In an effort to reduce the quantity of unnecessary objects in our lives, my family has taken to the philosophy that Christmas gifts should be “Consumable, or the best gift ever”. As such, I am looking forward to trying a nice new olive oil and balsamic vinegar, an interesting piece of cured meat, some lovely dates from Dubai, and a tasty looking bottle of tequila… Merry Christmas indeed!!