25 Dec Happiness during the festive season…is “Bah Humbug” a natural response?
Check out this great series of opinion pieces on happiness from the New York Times
By Darrin McMahon (HERE)
As Scrooge himself learned, there is plenty about the holidays that can bring us joy. Still, if you hear yourself saying “Bah Humbug” this season, or even feeling a little down, don’t sweat it. It is a perfectly human response, at least since the time of Scrooge.
Scrooge, whether he knew it or not, was reacting to something new in the 19th century, Christmas without the religion, just the rejoicing.
The 19th century witnessed the invention of Christmas as a time of schmaltzy good cheer and more secular celebration. Christians had long marked the birth of their savior with glad tidings, of course, just as Jews had every reason to remember fondly at Hanukkah a victory over persecution.
But the rejoicing had always been tempered for believers: The good news of Christ’s birth by his death; the light of the menorah by the darkness of other trials.
Scrooge, whether he knew it or not, was reacting to something new, Christmas without the religion, just the rejoicing. (There is no talk of Jesus in "A Christmas Carol.") To the claim, “Tis the season to be jolly,” he just said no.
It does seem to me that there is enough Scrooge in all of us to account for a similar impulse. Consider it this way. When someone says to you “Have a Merry Christmas!” or “Happy Hanukkah,” they are issuing a command. And even those of us who are nicer than naughty tend to resist — or least get a little grumpy — when we’re continually bossed around.
That is no less true when we are issuing the command to ourselves. Telling yourself to be happy is like telling yourself to fall asleep. It helps to think of something else.
So you can see where Scrooge was coming from. But that doesn’t mean we should wallow in his gloom.