The Joyful Secret

or … How I kept Trump out of Christmas.

I read a heart warming Christmas Email from the minister of a large church in my denomination yesterday, on Christmas Eve. It was one of an avalanche of similar greetings that managed to sneak through the spam filter, and which, after wishing me, by name, in the most personal and familiar terms, a most blessed Christmas celebration, concluded thus:

You may opt out by clicking on the link below:

The slow wheels of my mind began to grind on this surprising post script, searching for a shred of sense. Did the writer mean that I could opt out of the manifold richness that his email had promised me?  Or, did he mean that I could opt out – at this late stage – of Christmas itself; and if so which particular bits of Christmas could I be excused from?

And this clicking word, “unsubscribe”. Is that why Christmas cards appear in our mail box, along with the National Geographic? Do I have a subscription to Christmas? Had I paid for my Christmas subscription? Where could I obtain a Christmas refund?

Dumbstruck, I pondered the Yuletide email’s obscure benediction and little by little began to perceive the deep wisdom of a Christmas Opt-Out. As I spent the afternoon meditating on unsubscription (there being nothing else demanding my attention; all presents wrapped, meals prepared, guest rooms cleaned,  pillows fluffed and thank you letters written, sealed and stamped), mulling over it’s four syllables of mystery, a pure and holy vision grew in my imagination, epiphanous and glorious:

me some
bright, new
Star of promise.
And a vision came
to me of a Christmas
of a different kind, of a
Christmas “opted-out”, a
Christmas that was Peace
and Goodwill to all on earth:
Christmas without merchandise,
Christmas without K-Mart or queues.
Christmas without wheelie bins packed
to the gunnels with wrapping paper and
blister packs, Christmas without batteries!
Christmas without Michael Bublé and profit and
flashing LED things and profit and elves and profit
and Dean Martin and profit and deciduous trees and
profit and fake snow and profit. Christmas without the
clamorous din of commerce. Christmas without Boxing
Day sales.
with Christ! 

In the silent, revelatory night of Christmas Eve that followed the Yuletide Email I delved further into the Peace and Goodwill of unsubscription.  In blissful slumber I dreamed of Christmas devoid of mandatory detention, domestic violence, indigenous incarceration and climate change denial. A somnolent reverie of Christmas sans Donald Trump, sans Pauline Hanson, Theresa May, Tony Abbot and … get this … Santa Claus.  Yes, I opted out of Santa, which is such a relief because I saw Santa after hours in the mall last week, half-disrobed, missing his beard and hat, and he was absolutely not someone on whose knee my grandchildren should ever be sat.

I awoke this morning, on Christmas Day, with renewed Hope. Unsubscription is Joy to the World, and the more you opt out, the greater will be your Joy. This is the long forgotten Noel truth: the Joy of Christmas  is not what you gain, but what you cast aside. Christmas is rightly the season of forgetting, the feast of forgiveness, the cancelling of debts, the shedding of burdens, end of anger, cessation of worry, the failure of fear. Why else would a King be found in a manger? Christmas repeals aspiration, negates consumption, humbles pride. So, let go, drop the bundle, run unshackled, dance free!

Join me…
Opt out,



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