It’s Christmas week…which means crowded shops, Mariah and Boney-M battling it out on the radio for all time favourite Christmas classic and consuming more food than my body can really cope with. Thisyear, I have tried to make it a ‘Christmas with a difference’ by purchasing more ethical gifts and not spending a fortune on items that are likely to end up at the back of a drawer. That is all and well but I am also aware that Christmas can very quickly become an ‘insular’ celebration; we focus on The Day and our little circle and how we will cook an indulgent meal and be with our family and we will all get along with each other. While this idea is nice, I do find that getting caught up in tradition can prevent me from considering alternative ways to enjoy the festive season.
A couple of weeks ago a few friends got together and we helped out at a homeless shelter. Doing something like that, at this time of the year, is a fantastic way to get a bit of perspective. I find that I go into something like that feeling as though I am ‘doing my bit’ and then end up totally humbled by the stories that I hear and the people I meet. It made me reassess what this time of the year is all about. It’s not the food or the presents, the family feuds or the trees: it’s about people. And not just those in my immediate world but those who are not as fortunate as me to be able to celebrate in abundance, as many of us do. When you get down to the basics, Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus, who came to Earth to save mankind. Surely, if there is ever a time when we should stop to think about others, it is at Christmas.
There is a lot going on this weekend and it is likely that I will indulge in one mince pie too many and wake up on Christmas morning wondering what is in my stocking. So, the least I can do is take some time out to think about those who endure poverty, suffering and hardship. I did not choose to be born into a privileged society; they did not choose to be born into the circumstances they face. Jesus was not born in a palace or even a nice house; he was born in a dirty, smelly stable. The poor were at the heart of his message and when I come to celebrating His birth, it is imperative that I consider all those whom He came to save. How wonderful if I can look back on this Christmas and acknowledge that it was different; that I was different. If I can say I ate less, gave away more, prayed for the poor and defied tradition, then maybe my dreams of a ‘Christmas with a difference’ will come true.