Belfast Telegraph

Ghosts of Christmas past pleading for festive peace

By Nuala McKeever

Hurray! The shortest day of the year is over and we are on our way back to the light! Never mind Christmas, that fact alone is worth celebrating. We have turned a corner, there's a quare stretch in the evenings already and it'll be no time 'til we're all out jogging in the sun once more!

If you think you can hear the sound of straws being vigorously clutched there, you're right. I know it's an exaggeration, but please, indulge my little sad fantasy a while. Or more correctly, my little SAD fantasy. I'm with the Old Testament God on this one – Let there be light!

About the only up-side of this dark time of year is not having to get the hoover out too often cos y'hardly ever see the carpet in daylight. Low energy light bulbs have transformed every home into places of dirt-hiding gloom. We stumble around in the semi-dark, stubbing toes and banging knees and telling ourselves the dull murkiness is "atmospheric" and consoling ourselves that it does wonders for our aging appearance.

"Why, I look positively ALLURING in the kitchen now half the halogen bulbs have gone and I haven't got round to replacing them. I wonder could I cook by candlelight?"

I reckon if they put oil lamps in gyms, memberships would soar.

There hasn't been much bright side to look on politically either. Yeah, I know one moron set himself on fire in a shop in Belfast, but I don't think seasonal cheer was his goal. And the paramilitary-style protesters at Twaddell can dress in Santa outfits all they like, but they are still living in the dark side.

When Richard is just another Haass-been in the pantheon of Men From Across The Pond Who Came To Fix Us, it'll still be up to us, ourselves alone (here, that'd be a good name for a political party, wouldn't it?) to find our own bright, brand new day.

The play I'm in, Eternally Scrooged, is a take on A Christmas Carol. Scrooge gets the chance to see how things will turn out if he (or in my case, she) doesn't change his nasty ways.

In real life, I wonder if we all were fast-forwarded to the future and shown the impact of our behaviour, would we all see the pettiness of so many of the annoyances and angers and stubborn clinging to being right about our opinions that we are caught up in most of the time?

Would we really get a sense of how powerful we are to influence others for the good of all? Would we all see clearly that loving kindness is the greatest achievement possible in our relatively short lifetimes?

Do people who've murdered for 'causes' and then died themselves, do they see how pointless their actions were? Are they all sitting up there, or down there, or floating around somewhere out there, shouting impotently at us all, imploring us not to waste the few brief years we have together on squabbles over our supposed differences?

Are they, at this very moment, yelling at us, "One million quid a week to police the fleg protests, are yiz totally NUTS? Don't yiz realise how many days out, holidays, great teachers, doctors, nurses, artists, counsellors, builders, creators and entertainers yiz could get for a million quid a week?"

I sometimes imagine they are.

So, in honour of all the dead ones (they haven't gone away y'know) who are trying to show us the error of our ways, I wish you all a happy Christmas and the gift of love.

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