One snowy Christmas Eve in Porrentruy, the little town in the Jura where I was born, I came across a little girl, aged about five or six, who had let go of her mother’s hand in order to stroke lovingly the tangerine which a Father Christmas had thrust into her hand as he scurried past. She sat down on a low wall and said, full of wonder: “He gave it to me! And, you know what? it’s my favourite fruit!”. That little scene in the street sums up the magic of Christmas.
And yet a different feeling immediately contradicts this unreserved happiness that children still know how to experience, in their unquenchable thirst for joy and simple happiness. The end of year festivities have become, at least for a non-believer, no more than an empty ritual, the showy survival of a kind of togetherness which has lost its substance. You have to give presents, and receive them, and play at being pleased and surprised. Old habits die hard, but they have lost their meaning.
We now have not only an economic crisis, but a crisis of meaning as well. More...