Recently I said to a friend, "Yes, I'm a Christmas 'tragic'." Now, I'm very aware that Christmas can be really hard for people and that makes it a painful time. I also know when money is tight and kids are young it can be a really tough juggle - one year as we set off in the set for a Sydney family Christmas I asked our kids: "Who's hot? Who's tired? Who's cranky?" Right, must be Christmas! It did relieve the tension a little!
But here are some of the things I LOVE about this time of year! I LOVE:
Decorating the house, although one of our sons-in-law would love Christmas decorations up all year,
Sending out beautiful Christmas cards to remind people that I think of them (and finding arty ways to use any I received),
Wearing Christmas clothes (a lot of red, green and yellow,especially now my angel outfit has finally been retired- I know right?) 2022 has meant I have had to find warm clothes as the changing climate brought us weeks of cool weather in December- jumpers even,
Adding Christmas earrings,
Sending emails in Christmas colours,
Thinking about a loving Big God with skin on,
Cooking Christmas food,
Wrapping up presents
Getting together with neighbours,
That people buy gifts through charities rather than just add more to us who have so much (I know some people don't like these but I do),
Inviting neighbours over for a Christmas get together (we find we Australians are friendly but sometimes a bit suspicious about hospitality, but at Christmas people respond more readily),
Playing and listening to Christmas carols, different kinds from different parts of the world. Here are a couple of African versions of Little Drummer Boy, I fell in love with in 2022: Alex Boyte& the Geneis Choir, and Leslie Odom Jr & the Mzani Youth Choir It's worth a listen.
Carol singing (even though I'm not a good singer) and seeing children's faces light up,
Enjoying homes lit up and celebrating with amazing displays- which I get to enjoy,
Kids taking part in musicals and nativity plays, ( a student at uni once asked me: What's a nativity? So, I won't assume everyone knows. A nativity literally means the occasion of a person's birth but in western traditions 'The' nativity usually refers to the birth of Jesus).
Thinking about ways to share the love with others, whether in small gifts of Christmas cooking, gifts to local and International charities working with all kinds of people, maybe having been wiped out by fires or floods or in a country with less opportunities than ours. You probably already give but click here if you want to know more about some places that you can share the love.
Since all our kids have left home I've also realised I LOVE a busy Christmas. 2021 was a quiet one for us and Max loved it, (after 36 years he deserved one). But I'm not sure how many of those I can really enjoy. This year I've found ways to do what I love while he does the bits he enjoys- they do overlap. It's a little easier as he's mostly at Fosterton Retreat and I'm mostly in Mayfield. Next year after the PhD we'll be mostly in the same place- so much more to learn!
So you see, there are so many things I do like. I also like giving presents to people I love- we don't spend large amounts, sometimes handmade and a 2nd hand present swap is lots of fun.
Christmas is celebrated in many different cultures and countries, with various traditions I hope this Christmas,whatever your circumstances, there is time for wonder, reflection and some sort of celebration.
Guillermo Ramos Flamerich, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
Vrolijk kerstfeest – in Dutch (Max's parents are from the Nederlands & they celebrate Christmas present-giving on 5th December) Feliz Navidad – in Spanish 聖誕快樂 – in Mandarin Joyeux Noël – in French Frohe Weihnachten – in German Buon Natale – in Italian Prettige Kerstdagen – in Dutch メリー クリスマス – Japanese Feliz Natal – in Portuguese عيد ميلاد مجيد – in Arabic (our daughter-in-law is part Egyptian & their Christmas is 7th January)
Счастливого Рождества! – Russian (the official date for Christmas celebrations in Russia is the 6th of January) from https://www.comtectranslations.co.uk/news-insight/merry-christmas-in-10-different-languages/