The mythology of Christmas tells the story of many of our deepest inner lives.
Take the hard-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge who, visited by three ghosts and taken back through time to witness the calcification of his empathy and humanity, has an incredible awakening to the divinity of self, other and life.
Most of the great Christmas stories we tell are some variation on this theme of heart-opening, often assisted by a child or divine intervention (ghosts, Santa etc). You might say that they all depict some form of transformation into Christ (or more accurately, Christmas) consciousness.
My personal favourite among these modern myths is the film Elf. If you look at Elf as a myth - that is, as a metaphor for our inner lives and cultural narrative - it’s the story of an innocent, pure child (which could be seen as the inner child) confronting the estranged, closed hearted father (the wounded, cynical adult self), and trying to convince him that Santa (the sacred, soul, divinity) is real and very important.
And of course at the end of the movie, Elf does accomplish this, because Santa is real. In fact, he isn’t just real, he is everything.
When the father sees this, he has a Christmas awakening: His heart expands and his inner child - the sense of wonder, openness, love and trust - comes back online. He has stepped into Christ(mas) consciousness, and finally can embrace both Elf and his own divinity.
I think that what made Elf so salient for me personally was the state I was in when I first saw it years ago.
It was a period in my life when I was, for the first time, coming to terms with my own wounded, cynical heart. With the help of a facilitator, I had been taking a very deep and humbling ride into my wounding and the protective defences I’d erected as a result of it.
You could say my own ghosts of Christmas past, present and future were graciously schooling me.
So watching a movie like Elf was very much an experience of watching my own inner world played out before me. The cold, hardened adult, the divine, tender and rejected inner child, and all of the ensuing drama - I saw it all within myself.
It was profound, and to be honest, after watching it I felt like the Grinch whose heart famously grew several sizes in an instant. I remember a massive shift in my heart that lasted for weeks - maybe because I saw my own inner drama with a redemptive ending. Maybe because good stories are just really powerful.
Either way, it was a little taste of Christ(mas) consciousness, and I was loving it.
Beyond my own personal resonance, I believe the heart-opening emphasized in these stories is a process most of us can either relate to, or find instructive. It is the healing journey, the therapeutic process or the spiritual quest to reconnect with our own divinity, to rediscover the truth of ourselves, this world and our hearts.
If you read the subtitle of this post, you might be wondering why I don’t celebrate Christmas if I’m so excited about its mythology?
Well, I don’t really celebrate Christmas in the sense that I don’t go through the normal customs associated with it. No big celebrations, gatherings or traditions. The shadow side of Christmas is a bit of a turn off, so I basically choose to leave all of that stuff alone and just enjoy the good - the lights and ornamentation, the music and stories - from a healthy distance.
When I say the shadow side of Christmas, I’m referring to all of the obviously unhealthy customs associated with it: The connecting with toxic people out of a sense of obligation, the overconsumption, the social pressure to embody an artificial ideal - you probably know what I’m talking about.
But even though I’m not exactly an active participant in the spectacle, I still absolutely love the underlying heart centred theme. And the music.
I actually think we should strive to embody that essence all the time, every day of the year.
And with that, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season, and that we all may be touched by Christ(mas) consciousness throughout the rest of the year, too!