Of course not. It would be an act of purest optimism (as the Monty Python crowd would say) to expect it.
My family greatly enjoyed the Dr Who Christmas special for 2010 (you can probably still catch it on ABC’s IView – just google “iview”). Of course it was very silly at points (sharks pulling sleighs and opera singers changing the atmosphere) but this is entertainment, guys, not education! I loved all the “wibbly wobbly timey whimey” stuff especially. And of course the play with Dicken’s classic, “A Christmas Carol”
Nevertheless, I received the following comment from one of our commentators:
I watched the Dr Who Christmas special this year, which was based on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Among the usual Dr Who fluff and nonsense, there was a careful avoidance of anything to do with the birth of Christ. The people on the planet were celebrating the winter solstice, and of course, there was a lot of talk about Santa Claus… I’ve never read A Christmas Carol, but I would be interested to know how much Christ or Santa is mentioned by Dickens. Of course, we don’t need Dr Who to tell us about Santa taking over.
“A Christmas Carol” is my favourite Dicken’s story, and in fact, probably one of my all time favourite books. But there is precious little about Jesus and Christianity in it. Peter Craven recently wrote in an excellent article in The Age:
[T]he story of the Christ child…surfaces in us like a race memory… It can all sound pretty cheesy piped through the speakers at the supermarket amid the turkeys and hams and Christmas puddings but, wherever you come from and whatever you believe, it goes as deep as anything does in what we call our civilisation.
Nevertheless, all that cheesy stuff about Christmas in our culture is largely manufactured, and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was a part of the manufacturing as much as Coca-Cola’s Santa advertising campaign was. I always find the resemblence of the Ghost of Christmas Present tantalisingly both “like” and “unlike” the picture of Father Christmas I grew up with.
I don’t have any real problem with this “cultural” Christmas stuff, but I think there are two equal and opposite errors we need to avoid. The first is when the “cheesy” fantasy Christmas is allowed to merge seemlessly with the Christian story of the birth of Christ, so that the Nativity scene ends up as just one more decoration among the Santa and reindeer lights on the front lawn. The other is when we become so anti-Santa etc. (banning Father Christmas and Christmas trees and decorations etc.) that we end up looking like a Christian version of Scrooge.
There are two narratives at work here. One is a lot of fun, and the other is the most important mystery at the heart of our existence. Telling the difference shouldn’t be hard.