When I was a child, Christmas was an exciting adventure because of the new dress, shoes, toys, presents and money I would be receiving. The carolling with friends around town made it more delightful because of the extra pocket money. As I got older, Christmas was focussed on family, children, nieces/nephews, reunions, corporate lunches, dinners, parties, trying to impress bosses over the bonuses they were about to hand out.
Now much older (60 and retired), my perspective of Christmas has again changed. I really do not want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking meals, or running around shops like a chook without a head, looking for the appropriate present I could not afford, nor the idea of over-eating at party invitations. Sigh! I feel like Mr Scrooge and a wet blanket for Christmas.
However, I am certain for the sake of my loved ones, I would still put up the tree, decorate the home, play the season’s music, whisk some dishes, stretch the budget to make sure I do not penalise the “innocent” ones especially my grand-daughter (aged 8) of her anticipation about Christmas.
However, the reality is that Christmas is tinged with sadness since we lost our mom. Also, I have assisted in quite a few funerals of friends and community members this year. I know that the absence of their loved ones has changed their mood of this festive season. An extended family member who took her life recently has a birthday on Christmas day.
I am praying that my Christmas does not become a forlorn journey of pain. I am very much aware of the highlighted sense of angst and sorrow that some people experience during a season that should be joyful, hopeful and celebratory – the homeless, the lonely, the isolated, the separated, the poor, the afflicted and the anguished. A church friend asked recently if he was again invited to our Christmas lunch as he has nowhere to go.
So I googled some new perspectives in my search for a fresh meaning of Christmas. J. C Penney wrote, “Christmas is not just a time for festivity and merrymaking. It is more than that. It is a time for the contemplation of eternal things. The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving and forgiving. At Christmas, we are expected to spare time to contemplate on things eternal. That is, we must remind ourselves that we are strangers here on earth; that our real home is in heaven. And that no matter how long we live, we shall surely die one day. So many people who started the year with us are not around to finish it. Like us, they commenced the New Year with high hopes and aspirations. Some may have planned to marry this year, to buy a new car or to move into their new apartment. But alas, all those are now but a pipe dream. Thus, we should count ourselves lucky to be alive to see this Christmas. This should, therefore, be a period of gratitude to God for sparing our lives and counting us among the living. It should equally be an opportunity for us to mend our ways with God so that we will not be found wanting.” (www.vanguardngr.com/2012/12/the-true-essence-of-christmas).
I realised that there is really no new perspective on Christmas – love, peace, joy, generosity, kindness, goodwill and gratitude remain its essence for generations. All we need is a new heart, a new pair of eyes and ears. Then Jesus in the manger will deeply touch us and show His gentle face. At that moment, at one silent night, when all is calm… and we are contemplating the holiness of the season, the wind of sadness is serenely blown away, and we can join and joyfully proclaim: “Glory to God in the Highest and peace to all people of goodwill!”
A very blessed Christmas to all. May the love of the Infant Jesus show us what is truly important in our lives! Thank you for all your prayers and support.