All my life I have been a person who has always loved Christmas. It is that most special time of the year where all roads lead back home, from where we first came. One needs to be away from one’s home and loved ones to know that Christmas is not represented in what we can see before our eyes but what we feel.
I recall one of my saddest moments to be that first December 25th I awoke on Christmas morning and knew that I was no longer a child. Once I discovered that there was no real Father Christmas and that my parents had lied to me for seven or eight years, I wondered if they and my teachers had also lied about the birth of the baby Jesus in the stable at Christmas? Had I been no more than a child pawn in the most fanciful game of all adult tricks where the whole adult nation engages their young children in a conspiracy of love and seasonal magic?
Paradoxically, I had to become the father of young children in my own right, before I saw Christmas re-emerge in its full glory again. It was reflected in the looks of astonishment and hope on the wide-eyed faces of my offspring eagerly enjoying all that magic which Christmas has to offer. I refer not only to the unwrapping of presents and the delight on their little faces to get their favourite toy from Santa, but to the family rounds of visits to drop off presents, the mince pies that are eaten in the busy streets as an organ grinder with a monkey on his shoulders plays out Christmas carols loud enough to be heard in heaven above. Then, there were seeing and taking part in public Christmas carol services and crowned with one's attendance at Church on Christmas morning, and thinking throughout the service of the marvellous Christmas spread to follow at dinner time. Seeing the magic in my children’s faces enabled me to feel it again in my own heart as they grew up.
As the years progressed, while the traditional Christmas society I used to know has vastly changed and the spiritual message has been supplanted by the commercial transactions that command the attention of most homes, I believe it with every bone in my body that there was never a time when the true spirit and meaning of Christmas wasn’t more needed throughout the world.
How can we bring back that true meaning of Christmas in 2018? The first and most important thing to remember is that just as the three wise kings that visited baby Jesus in the stable saw in the bright star a promise of good things to come, that we also should see and realise this promise from inside ourselves. While we wrap up presents for our loved ones, let us also look around at those individuals who have nothing to look forward to this Christmas except homelessness, a mountainous debt they can never clear, cold, hunger, unemployment, along with empty buckets of hope and little chance of prosperity for the New Year. Unless we wrap ourselves up in the concerns of others less fortunate than ourselves this Christmas, unless we can make this Christmas a time to do extra for someone, we are missing the whole point of Christmas and ensuring that we have lost the essence of the Christmas message that all babies are born to pass on to their fellow being.
If we can make this Christmas a time for opening our hearts in order to give out the greatest present of all, we will travel the very same journey that the three wise kings travelled as they followed that bright star of promise, two thousand years ago. By having a bit less ourselves we can provide Christmas stockings to all stuffed with mankind’s goodness and God’s grace. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Bill and Sheila.
Love and peace. xxx