The gospel truth is that we should all be!

December 2, 2000

PEOPLE keep asking me about Christmas. They want me to advise their readers on getting lucky at the office party, curing a hangover, travelling abroad for the holidays, coping with visiting in-laws and stuffing the perfect turkey.

What am I supposed to tell them? One, I’m happily married; two, I don’t drink; three, I just want to stay home with my family; four, my mother already lives with us; five, I’m a vegetarian.

Oh, and by the way, I’m Jewish.

Maybe I should be more confrontational about this. My dear friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach insists he won’t even walk into a room where there’s a Christmas tree. If a posse of carol-singers asked him to join in a chorus of Oh Come All Ye Faithful, I expect he’d truss them in their own tinsel.

But I hate to look like a killjoy. The people who are planning to misbehave at the parties or carve the turkey on a Mediterranean liner, they just want to have some fun.

Most people in Britain are not practising Christians, even if they come from Christian backgrounds. Christmas is not a religious festival to the majority of Britons, and they think it’s puritanical when anyone tries to introduce a spiritual element.

Especially when that element is wholly negative: ‘‘Sorry, I’m a Jew, I don’t do Christmas. Do I ask you to observe Yom Kippur?’’

So I’ve written about 20 variations on the same piece, all of them opening with the admission that I love buying presents so much, I couldn’t care whether Christmas was originally Christian, Muslim or Zoroastrian. I’ll go for any festival that involves platinum-card meltdown in Harrods.

Every piece includes the Geller get-lucky formula: Look into his/her eyes and say, ‘Tell me something you feel passionate about’ — instantly you introduce the erotic word ‘passionate’, and light the fuse on an intense heart-to-heart.

I reveal the Geller hangover cure: drink water. If you can’t drink only water all night, then drink half a pint of water for every glass of wine before you go to bed. If that means six mugs of water, then six it is — you’ll thank me in the morning.

Instead of extolling the pleasures of spending late December at home, I recall the bizarre winter I spent in Japan, living without a phone or a TV in a cottage beneath Mount Fuji, recovering from a serious eating disorder. I use this to warn of the dangers faced by anorexics and bulimics at this time of glutinous feasting.

And on the mothers-who-come-to-visit question, I preach forgiveness — forgiveness of their irritating habits, and personal forgiveness, absolving yourself of all the embarrassing and ungrateful things you have done and said to your family over the years.

You can’t change the future, but you do have to make the future. Don’t waste energy in the wrong direction.

Finally, the turkey — would you really insert a fistful of Paxo under its tail if the poor thing was still alive? If the answer to that is ‘Yes’ then no amount of MindPower advice is going to help you. If not, then have a vegetable platter this year.

But in these articles I rarely talk about the festival which is perhaps my favourite of the whole year, the one that named me: the Hag ha-Urim. I was born on December 20, and so I was called Uri.

This festival is said to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple by Judah the Maccabee in 165 BCE, but I suspect it stretches back far beyond that.

It is easy to imagine the ancient nomads of the east Mediterranean seaboard, marking the shortest days of the year with prayer and feasting, in expectation of the gradual recovery of the sun’s power.

I love the excitement of children as the candles of the menorah are lit, day by day. I love the Ma’oz Tsur, and the game of sevivon.

If seasonal decorations are required, that’s easy: earlier this year I bought a beautiful collection of witches’ balls at Sotheby’s, glass globes blown more than 150 years ago which are supposed to ward off the evil eye.

Bad magic is reflected back upon the spell-caster by their multi-coloured surfaces. These globes are the original Christmas baubles — I bet almost no one remembers that when glass balls twist and spin and glitter on the trees, they are imitating a pagan rite.

I love to light candles and say the ‘Al na-Nissim’, that great prayer which concludes: ‘‘And thereupon your children came into the shrine of your house . . . and did light lamps in your holy courts, and appointed these eight days to be kept with praise and thanksgiving . . . and we thank your great name.’’

And I love to choose gifts, and I love to give them. I know the tradition of Chanucah gelt is wholly Jewish, and that the rabbi will read of the gifts brought by the princes for the dedication of the Sanctuary in the wilderness.

But I have my own justification of extravagant present-giving — the three pagan kings, according to the Christian gospels, came to Bethlehem to worship a Jewish boy child.

Why should I not express my own love for Jewish children, and adults, by giving?

To all my readers, I wish the greatest gift of all —peace of heart.

Read Uri Geller’s stunning online novel, Nobody’s Child, at www.uristory.com
Uri Geller’s ParaScience Pack is published by Van Der Meer at £30. To hear an inspirational message from Uri, call 0906 601 0171. Call costs 60p per minute.
Visit him at www.uri-geller.com and e-mail him at urigeller@compuserve.com

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