A jingle from my childhood went: Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you. Party pooper.” This was not Shakespeare or even very nice, but there was truth to it.
Every party does have a pooper and come the Holidays this is a role much to be avoided.
There is no party so excellent, so God-breathed, that some serious soul will not be offended. When Jesus came he managed to go to enough excellent events the party poopers complained and the Teacher had to respond:
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! And wisdom is justified by her works.
Jesus was making several serious points, but a small one is that there is no pleasing a certain sort of religious person. They are worried someone will have unauthorized fun at a party and not follow the proper fasting rules during Lent. Yet to misuse Solzhenitsyn, the line between joy and party pooperism cuts through each human heart.
When I have been tempted to pooperism, the cause usually boils down to one of three root causes:
“Why aren’t you doing this my way?”
People have strangely strong views about how to have a party.
At our house, we tend to eat, drink, and talk about literature. This is not everyone’s idea of a good time. If it is my idea of a good time, then when I go to the Other Sort of Party, I should avoid pooperism. My taste in parties is not sanctified, nor even better.
There is a dialectic to party going where my ideas of joy come into contact with other ways of jollification. This is a chance to grow. I cannot, perhaps, control my feelings and preferences, but I can see to it that those around me have a good time and learn what they enjoy.Often, despite myself, I will find my fun.
“If I am not happy, nobody should be happy.”
Some souls cannot allow anyone else to be happy, if they are not happy.* They go to war with good cheer, resenting anyone who is rejoicing. This is the weaker brother who has learned to use his weakness to control nice people. There is a good principle not to offend, if one can avoid it, but this is the man who uses his offenses, and they are legion, to keep everyone in line.
He is not happy. How dare this group be happy?
“How can we party when X is happening!”
The way the world is, some terrible thing is always happening. The deadly seriousness of the times can kill our ability to party. This is understandable, but whatever the Cause, even if it is the salvation of the world, there is time to rejoice. If Jesus could make the wine at a wedding feast, surely we can make time from our work to bring some wine to a wedding!
Jesus wept, but He also managed to eat and drink enough to be accused of gluttony and winebibbing.
This holiday I shall eschew pooperism and rejoice with those who rejoice best I can.
Every party doesn’t need a pooper, that’s why we are going to change.
*DISCLAIMER OF MUCH IMPORTANCE: Being sad is not pooperism. The Hols make some folk sad and when I find a sad person I am sad with the one who is sad. We need space for sorrow and sorrowful people. This is a discussion of those that GO to a party and intentionally spread bad cheer out of selfishness and NOT about those who are sad. As a person who struggles with depression, I would never want anyone to think that being sad is (in itself) a problem or sin.