December 2019 

I remember the feelings I had as a child in the lead up to Christmas Day.  It was an occasion I very much looked forward to and I have many happy childhood memories.  And I’m sure most of us will have some good memories this special season of the year.  For me, it was having the whole house to myself; that may sound strange, but I need to explain my parents ran an 18-bedroom guesthouse.  In those days, it was the practice to close the hotel during the winter months and I could then have my own bed-room, rather than share the attic with the rest of the family so guests could be accommodated.

We could have a lounge again and my parents could concentrate on getting ready for Christmas.  I remember the house filled with the smell of my father making chutney, my mother making Christmas cakes and I did my very best to ensure my parents were thoroughly aware of what I would like for Christmas!

When Christmas day at long last arrived, it was always special and I, like all children, loved the thrill of opening an array of beautifully wrapped presents, the Christmas Dinners, around a large Victorian table with family, watching the usual Christmas films and then as the evening came the sense of sadness as it would be a whole year to wait for another Christmas.  These are some of my special memories of Christmas.  However, as time goes by and we get older, our celebration of Christmas changes and develops.  

What circumstances we may face, affects how we might approach our celebrations.  Austerity may mean for some they have to make cut-backs and Christmas becomes trimmed down.  For others environmental concerns may be another reason for cutting back.  Someone I spoke to recently explained how they would not be purchasing their usual Christmas crackers, they planned to keep reusing their old artificial Christmas tree and would be repairing old decorations, so their festivities may have less of an impact on the planet.

It is good for us to think about how we do Christmas and over time, our role and expectations become different and we may become more reflective about why we celebrate this special season.

Whilst Christmas celebrations continue, and evolve, the story remains the same.  Some 2,000 years a family with all the pressures of their age, celebrate the birth of a child, with all the hopes and aspirations such an event brings.  This still resonates with many today.  The story of Christmas has stood the test of time and has been a source of inspiration and hope for many throughout the years.  It was such a story that brought moments of peace to those who faced each other across the trenches.  It was for a while, “peace and goodwill to all mankind.”  And each year, we celebrate a God-given opportunity to reflect on what peace might be across the world.   If only we could really hear that message of Christmas Day, as we think about problems in Syria, Yemen, DCR, Hong Kong, and other areas of our world.  As the old carol goes:

“Yet with the woes of sin and strife 

the world has suffered long;

beneath the angel strain have rolled

two thousand years of wrong;

and man at war with man, hears not

the love-song which they bring:

O hush the noise, ye men of strife,

And hear the angels sing.”

However, you spend your Christmas I do hope it is a happy, peaceful and blessed time.