This time next week the question will be: “How was the Christmas?” Most will answer “Quiet” without batting an eyelid. It seems far from quiet this week. It is more like mayhem. There is a last minute rush to get everything done.
The Yanks are still battling over ‘Christmas versus Holidays.’ That fight will arrive here too soon enough. We are now a secular state so we cannot be seen to endorse religion! It will soon come as a shock to some people that we actually celebrate the birthday of Christ at Christmas – the King who was born in a stable.
We shall all exchange gifts yet what gift do we give Him, whose birthday we celebrate? God must have a sense of humour! If not, we are all doomed!
Christmas can be difficult for many people, especially those who are grieving. This will be the first Christmas without a loved one – a mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister, grandparent or friend. It can be an extremely lonely and heart wrenching time. For some it is like a grief all over again.
There is a vacant chair at the Christmas table. There is a present less, a card less, a call less. There is, quite simply, a huge vacuum. It can stomach you, and usually at times you are not expecting it.
There is no easy answer and no easy way out. Grief is best dealt with by going through it rather than avoiding it. That is easier said than done. Yet, it is important to know that it is all right to grieve. It is acceptable to be sad because you miss the presence of someone. Over time one will adjust to the loss rather than get over it.
It is strange how loss can be heightened at Christmas and stranger how the very birth of Christ is the one thing that makes some sense of death. The fact of His coming to earth, living, dying and rising is what puts death into some form of context. He conquered death. That, at some level, gives us hope. We might not fully understand what it all means but hope is hope in any one’s language. Without that sense of hope grieving can be very solitary.
Christmas has its grace. It nudges us to be better people, even if we are not believers. Edgar A Guest’s poem ‘At Christmas’ is my Christmas wish to you.
“A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here;
Then he’s thinking more of others than he’s thought the months before,
And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime.
When it’s Christmas man is bigger and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service that is prompted by the heart.
All the petty thoughts and narrow seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he’s seeking is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas he is almost what God wanted him to be.
If I had to paint a picture of a man I think I’d wait
Till he’d fought his selfish battles and had put aside his hate.
I’d not catch him at his labours when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary when he’s striving for himself.
I’d not take him when he’s sneering, when he’s scornful or depressed,
But I’d look for him at Christmas when he’s shining at his best.
Man is ever in a struggle and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it, but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost what God sent him here to be.”