Happy Christmas to everyone when it comes. I hope you are not stressed too much about what to eat, what to drink, what to wear – Jesus expressly warns us against such worries (Matthew 6:31) and yet they seem to be especially prevalent around the time of his birthday. If only he’d added to the list, “What shall we buy our mum for Christmas?” the list would be complete.
In case you’re wondering, if I am your mum (and this applies only to two people, though others might want to read over their shoulders), I am really not too fussed about presents. I do like presents, though I like them to be meaningful rather than expensive. Even when our boys were small they didn’t get huge presents at Christmas – we reasoned that it was their birthday which was the occasion for making a fuss of them and giving them something significant, whereas Christmas was for other things. So give me a decent book, a family game or something that smells or tastes nice and I will be delighted.
As for other things, sometimes I wonder if I have gone too far along the ‘opting out of Christmas stress’ line. I don’t do cards and have just sent hundreds of emails to greet people. Some might find that a bit impersonal though I would maintain that it’s no more so than writing hundreds of cards – and a lot easier on the hand, not to mention the pocket. I also like decorations but am generally too lazy to put them up myself so it’s been lovely this year to have a teenager in the household again. Our god-daughter who lives with us decorated the tree. Families, though they change character over the years, are important at such times.
The traditional things I love best, though, are probably carols. This year our church was invited to carol sing at a local social club, where we had a wonderful evening in which everyone joined in, even with a couple of songs they didn’t know, and we shared the message of the coming of Jesus. It is wonderful to preach the gospel (that’s what I was doing, though to others it may have seemed like an informal talk) to a receptive audience, and there were certainly indications that the Christmas message was impacting some people who would not, even at this time of year, be seen in church.
So a happy Christmas preparation time to one and all!
Here’s a photo of one of the unlikeliest joys of this Christmas for me: when a church lady said she had knitted a nativity scene and could she bring it in, my heart sank a little, but when I saw it I fell in love with it. Somehow the informality of the knitted scene, rather than a beautifully produced piece of art, speaks about the God who came into our world and takes us as he finds us.