Christmas isn’t about Jesus for a lot of people. Long before Jesus came along, the Romans celebrated Saturnalia in the middle of December by exchanging gifts and partying. It was a good few centuries later that Christians hijacked this festival and joined in the merriment creating Christmas.
I reckon that someone who doesn’t think about God 364 days of the year has as much right to Christmas as me.
Most of the traditions celebrated by those with or without a faith have very little to do with God’s story. I’d rather not force my faith on anyone, whether it’s Christmas day or any other. Yet, I will gladly tell anyone willing to listen, why I think Christmas is awesome.
It blows my mind and shakes my faith every year when I try to grasp that the Creator of the universe might choose to become a man to show love and passion for people. Reading that back, it really does sound ludicrous, yet it is what I believe and build my life on. If it’s true then I think it’s worth celebrating in March, September or any other time of year.
Christmas for my family is about the birth of Jesus because believing in him changes my life.
We will celebrate Christmas, and the coming of God on earth, with gusto and excitement, yet each year I struggle to align my faith with the festivities. I strive to juggle gluttony and the greed of accumulating more stuff, with the desire to live generously. I’m always left wondering how to give Christmas gifts that don’t oppress others around the world?
So I have a Christmas tree in my front room (a tradition employed to hurry-up winter and lure back the sun) and presents spewing out from underneath. Then opposite sits my glittering Nativity (that is out all year round, not just December). I will eat Turkey on Christmas day and my kids will leave a mince pie and glass of home brew out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. I’m happy with these cultural traditions mingling with my beliefs.
My faith and culture make up the very complex and complicated character that is me.
With only a week before Christmas, I’m up to my eyeballs in concerts, shopping and wrapping. No matter how many blogs I read about peace and goodwill I’m frazzled. Yet I’m comforted that on the First Christmas’ Mary was probably pretty fraught too. Her newborn was lying in a feeding trough while she was lonely and far from home. It wasn’t cosy and idyllic but a long way from her hopes and expectations.
For me, Christmas highlights the gulf between my reality and expectations. It is a magnifier that amplifies the differences between Sam and Jonah. On Saturday, I watched my seven-year-old play his violin in a Christmas Concert, whilst on Tuesday I braced myself to witness my nine-year-old dressed up as a sheep in a nativity play. It seems Christmas concerts bring out the worst in Sam and me. Sam hates the noises and kerfuffle while I hate seeing him stressed and out of his depth. And when it comes to buying my boys presents, the experience is worlds apart.
So, as my shoulders rise with tension and my to-do list fails to shrink, I will try to be reassured that the lessons of my Christmas can also bring out the best in Sam and me. At this time of year I’m reminded that,
There is normally more to a situation than meets the eye.
The weakest and most vulnerable often have the capacity to shine the brightest.
Amidst mess and confusion, something incredible and beautiful can take place; something so great that it changes the history of the world.
While you’re here, the chance of you receiving a card whether family, friend or stranger is pretty slim, so I’d like to take this chance to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Me and My Boys.