What does Christmas mean to you?
When I think of the meaning of Christmas I think of the birth of Jesus Christ and the arrival of the living flesh embodying the christian faith. Christ’s arrival represents love, peace and goodwill to all men, a central core ethos for anyone who believes in him.
Factually we know that Jesus was not born on the 25th December but probably sometime in October. Christmas day therefore is only symbolic of his birth and what he represents.
But what does Christmas really mean for many people in the UK today and are we kidding ourselves that we love the seasonal event and look foreword to its coming with relish?
I am not getting into a debate here about the validity of who Christ was, though most would agree he existed, just who was he exactly? Most would agree and equate Christmas as a time of love, coming together, relationships and the giving and receiving of gifts regardless of any believe or faith. The attendance by many at the carol service is an interesting one: perhaps displaying an acceptance of a spiritual need that is personal to the individual- or being more cynical, because it is just part of the package deal ,to be done to get into the festive mood. Christmas is not quite Christmas somehow unless we have sung a carol or two and placed a coin in the collection tin. It makes us feel better that we have done this, so we can then go away and have a party at our leisure.
Recently, I heard on a local radio station that one in ten of us will still be paying off last years’s Christmas debts. Relate, relationship counsellors and solicitors will be gearing up for the New Year when it is out with the old and in with the new. Christmas is recognised as stressful and demanding, leading up to the big day, and when families are brought together around the table, tensions can also be running high. Having to spend time together and facing up to unsolved problems as the new year beckons brings many individuals and families at a crisis point.
I don’t think many of us- unless we are very well off would disagree that the festive season is a time when we creek at the seams because of the need for money to do Christmas justice for everybody. Not wanting to disappoint and always coming up with the goods.The expectation and the hype is all part of the expected stress. No wonder a lot of us feel it is such an anticlimax when it is all over. Like saying:
“well what was that all about?”
A couple of weeks ago, I braved and trudged round the shops looking for, and wondering what to spend on everybody this Christmas. It is the usual round of organising, writing cards and wrapping presents around juggling family visits between work shifts and school holidays. Everybody expects to be seen, so the car is whizzing up and down the country using up more carbon dioxide and leaving an ever greater carbon foot print on the planet.
I find it equally depressing to see the huge amount of packaging and plastic used to bulk out the size of Christmas presents. I do everything I can to reduce this and keep gifts small and without a ton of plastic and cardboard.
Leaving any religious thoughts aside here, I think if most people were honest, they would agree that Christmas is overdone and overpriced. It would be interesting to read a survey-I am sure they must be out there, questioning what people really want for Christmas and what it should really stand for.
A reconciliation with a loved one perhaps. Meeting an old friend who you have not seen for a while. A chance to tell someone you love them; that you should have told but didn’t because fear and pride got in the way for fear of rejection and pain.How many of us out there wish we could see a loved one again, who has died, just for a minute and have the opportunity to feel that relationship again? we can all relate to this.
Let me leave you with this thought then.
What would you like Christmas to really mean and how off the mark is this for you in December 2007?
Stop and pause to consider doing something different this Christmas which would bring you greater emotional fulfillment than just the usual merry go round of things to do, places to go, people to see, presents to open.
Each year at Christmas I try very hard to make it a more meaningful, less expensive and less wasteful. In the most part I fail as the pressure is on to conform and be like everyone else. I try to reduce the card mountain but it never seems to work, and with a teenager at home the pressure to buy the latest “must have” is a bit of a problem. I have cut back a lot though. Charities are on my list of givings and I do try and see people that I want to see, rather than having to see.There is much room for improvement though on my part.
For different gift ideas and how you can contribute to the world, helping poverty, suffering, the need for clean drinking water and aiding the protection of vulnerable people visit www.CAFOD.ORG.UK/WORLDGIFTS
Going back to one of my earliest blogs. For me the greatest gift is to be living and experience the day to day of living. However hard that is. I am still here fighting to do better things, learn, grow and share my love for others with others. This is what Christmas means to me.
I hope Christmas is kind to you and bring you more than just a mountain of christmas paper.
God bless you all this Christmas.