Tuesday, 4 December 2012

All I want for Christmas is ...?

No doubt, at this time of year, people will be asking you whether you've done all your Christmas shopping yet? This is a question that will be much repeated throughout the rest of December, and it seems to be the most important question relating to the Christmas season. It is certainly the most frequently discussed topic. 

But it occurred to me a few years ago that it's really not all about the shopping and the presents. I started to feel quite sick about Christmas and felt increasingly uncomfortable about people's expectations, and in particular, my expectations. What do I expect to happen at Christmas? What do I hope to get out of it?

I have to confess I have always loved presents.

They are such a beautiful mystery; papered huddles of them under the tree, little packages peeping out of stockings. I can't deny that for many years my attention has been very focussed on receiving and opening presents. Despite this, I have also always loved finding and giving presents. I love drawing up lists of what I'm going to give to everyone. I love folding in neat ends of gift wrap and curling ribbon. 

But I have realised that I've outgrown my childish ideas of what Christmas is about. I believe in Jesus and everything he means for the world and me, and that Christmas is, for many, a time to celebrate this fact. In theory. But in practice, HOW DO I DO THIS? By over-eating and focussing on my selfish desires for THINGS? I wonder how I could better express and live the message of Peace and Goodwill to all Men. That is ALL HUMANS. Good will. Even the annoying ones. Even the ones that aren't easy to like. 

I know now what I really do want to get out of this . Mostly, I'd like to be a better person. I'd like to be kinder and more thoughtful and more generous. Not necessarily more generous with presents or food or money, but with time and attention. I would like to give my attention more fully to those I am with. To listen better to whatever is of interest to the people I love. To give a hand more often and be the best I can. I'd like for whoever I'm with on any particular day to see the best version of myself, instead of a me that is wishing I could be off doing something else or being with someone else. It's quite a big ask, but it's a request I am confident that Jesus likes to hear, and loves to help with.  Obviously, this isn't just about Christmas, but about all year, for the rest of my life. And it doesn't mean I'm instantly becoming a perfect angel. But every journey is made up of small steps and a desire to push on. 

This has already become a fairly long blog-post so I will leave the more practical suggestions about simpler Christmasses and ways to break with traditions to another day. And don't worry if these ideas aren't in time for you to change your plans this year. January is a cold and dark month, often without much going on. Perfect to sit and think about people and to gather ideas, reassess how you want to do things and how you want to live. Keep a notebook.

Until then, keep warm and toasty Lovely People. xxx

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