London shopping

Raging against the holiday

The headline hurts:  “Hate Christmas?”

The sub-title offers a response:  “There’s a ‘rage room’ to let out holiday stress.”

Utterly ridiculous?!  Or might it be perfectly logical?

For just one day (last Monday), Londoners got to experience “Rudolph’s Rage Room.” There, for just $25 (more rage), they could go underground to vent their frustrations at all that irritates them about the holiday, which the majority of humanity celebrates as a season of joy.

Patrons in the rage room dress in seasonally-colored overalls and don protective goggles – a necessary safeguard for a generation that has grown up overprotected.  For three minutes they could smash Christmas trees, ornaments, and other decorations – but hopefully not each other, despite the heightened holiday stress typically triggered by family. The weapon of choice for this creepy catharsis is a bat – not one used in cricket, but a baseball bat, thereby blaspheming America’s athletic religion along the way!

What are they thinking?

One hates the Christmas songs and the weather.  Another assumes that by now “people are pretty sick of the Christmas music (and) all the decorations.”  A third “just imagined everyone from last Christmas who didn’t get (him) anything and then showed them how it was.”  The organizer rejoices (oops!) that “everyone has loved it universally – whether they hate Christmas or they love Christmas.”

Everyone?  Really?

Rudolph may have been at risk of a brutal amputation in the room with his name.  But even worse is the cultural disease looming large on the London streets and elsewhere.  Where consumerism reigns, frustration follows.  Without remembering the reason for the season, society does risk being pushed over the edge.

The real underground scene is that of a cave, an unadorned site where animals could take shelter from the weather.  There, on Christmas, a child is born, “a Savior who is the Messiah and Lord.”   In the still of night, that infant, “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger,” was a sign to all who saw him.

THAT scene we celebrate as “good news of great joy” – then as now.  THAT room became a place of amazement, for shepherds then and worshippers today.  THAT sight was the cause of homage by magi then and the impetus for adoration by wise people today.

Later would come the rage (by King Herod).  His anger arose not over music or decorations or a lack of gifts, but the undeniable presence of a newborn king, one whose humble beginnings would signal a radical overturning of all that the world values.  Mercy would be His great work and peace His lasting gift.

Releasing rage is hardly “the perfect holiday treat.”  It’s a false escape, from which there is no escape.

To catch the real holiday spirit, it’s best to recall its origins – in the Incarnation, the Word-made-flesh, the birth of the One who alone enables us to give “glory to God in the highest” and to enjoy “peace on earth for people of good will.”


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