A time of joy, of goodwill to all men, peace on earth. A celebration of the arrival of our Saviour. Families reunite, warm hugs and mince pies, making all things well together. In many cases this is how Christmas happens, bonds that have perhaps loosened a bit during the course of hectic day to day existence whilst everyone strives to achieve their goals (personal or corporate!), are re-cemented. Joy is a prevailing emotion that carries us through. Ok this is perhaps a romanticised view on Christmas, with families in matching Seasonal jumpers, perfect symmetrically decorated trees, a bit of coordinated tinsel garnishing the labradoodle’s collar, and a jolly game of Trivial Pursuit after the Queen’s Speech.
If only. For me Christmas is a time of fun, family and celebration, but it’s easy to forget two things: the birth of Jesus Christ, and the many, many people to whom the aforementioned vision do not apply. Firstly, Jesus. We are often, quite correctly, reminded of why we celebrate. However it would be a great opportunity for Christian communities to love, for example, the homeless for the longer term, to make more sustainable contribution to the needy above and beyond the 12 days of Christmas. Homeless people are still likely to be facing the same challenges on the 15th January. We need to do something.
Secondly, how about the increasing number of people for whom Christmas is stressful, trying and in some cases downright miserable. I’m not talking about Jeremy being told off by Nina because he couldn’t find the Christmas pudding recommended by Nigella Lawson in Waitrose. I refer to those who go into debt to provide THE present for their kids. The single parents desperately trying to scrape out some time with their children over Christmas. The recently bereaved, dreading the first ‘celebration’ without a father, husband or brother. There’s a lot of pain. Many other reasons and events can transform Seasonal joy into heartache.
What’s the answer? How do the millions whose stomachs drop as December approaches cope? For many, and I count myself amongst them (and I am also one of those to whom the customary vision does not apply), the answer is Hope. The birth of Jesus brings us Hope for peace and salvation. We know that path is not always straight and without obstacles. For those who don’t believe? Hope. There will always be Hope. A positive vision and view. A belief that this too shall pass. Because it will. Choose hope, choose a positive outlook, choose how you react to obstacles.
I think I understand that when all is black around you that occasionally it’s impossible to see light. It will break through at some point. Day follows night. Prepare for the daylight.