The Lessons of Christmas

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    They say the true spirit of Christmas is becoming ever more elusive, buried deep under a pile of glittery commercialism in these ungodly modern times of ours. It is not easy to find meaning behind the medley of inclusive traditions, gladly embracing Jesus and St Nicholas alongside Coca Cola and Donald Duck[1]. The orgy of lights and ornaments is borderline tasteless, the food – way too heavy for the average stomach to digest and as for the gifts… Well, great expectations are a recipe for disappointment, as we all know.

    Yet, come to think about it, Christmas gifts might be just the perfect way to teach kids, and many adults that still don’t get it, of course, about how to handle the powerful emotion of disappointment. We have all been there, I guess. The annual rite of ramping up one’s hopes that this year Santa will finally, magically, get it right. And then, gingerly unwrapping that gift box just to find out it is not the golden heart necklace you’d expected, but a Joni Mitchell CD. Brace yourselves for this year’s training session, guys!

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    Having been drilled in handling disappointment may come in handy in many unexpected ways. For instance, those working with sustainable finance expected the EU commission to present its decision on whether nuclear and gas should be included in the Green Taxonomy on Wednesday this week. Well, we’ll have to keep waiting. Disappointing, I know. But it might be that the Santas at the Commission meant well. Perhaps they didn’t want to disappoint one or the other of the opposing blocks just days before Christmas.

    Keeping everyone happy on this sensitive issue has proven virtually impossible, after all. The kids seem particularly jittery, stomping feet and shouting, “We will not forgive you”. In an opinion piece published in Euractiv earlier this week, Greta Thunberg and her friends warn that making the wrong decision on gas and nuclear could turn into a real-life climate nightmare. “There is no wiggle room now for any decision that delays reaching real zero emissions,” they claim.

    No wonder the elders are anxious, being squeezed between yey- and ney-sayers, each armed with a battery of valid arguments, especially when it comes to nuclear energy. “It is a lie that the EU can become CO2-neutral without nuclear power,” EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton told five European newspapers, including Die Welt, last week. “The German government’s stance is that nuclear power is not one of the sustainable forms of energy [that] remains,” retorted German environment minister Steffi Lemke on Monday. And on Tuesday, thirteen members of the EU Commission’s Technical Expert Group (TEG) urged the Commission not to “put a ‘scientific’ stamp on what is primarily a political position on nuclear fission energy aiming to satisfy the few EU member states that wish to promote the associated technologies.”

    It’s complicated. Luckily, many of us have been training for years to handle complicated situations, too, by celebrating Christmas in a modern-family-logistics-nightmare fashion. Most recently, we’ve added the stress-test of navigating a global pandemic to the equation as well.

    Let us, therefore, embrace the learning experience that the holidays so generously offer and make the most of it. Merry Christmas!

    [1] For those of you not familiar with the reference, it’s a peculiar Swedish tradition. Every Christmas Eve, at 3 o´clock, over three million Swedes gather in front of their TVs to enjoy an hour of Disney cartoons. The programme, known as `Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul´ (Donald Duck and His Friends Wish you a Merry Christmas), has been shown every Christmas Eve in Sweden since 1960.

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