Do you ever get the feeling Christmas has kind of got out of control somewhere? Like we all started planning this nice little thing – maybe a party – and then someone, or a committee of people, just started coming up with more and more – frankly bizarre – things we could add to make it more, you know, “Christmassy”?
Today, Christmas is about reindeer and robins and TV adverts and penguins (seriously, why?) and trees and tinsel and eating and drinking and putting on weight and then slogging to lose weight again for months after and grottos and fake snow and Christmas presents.
Frankly, Christmas feels like it’s become about showing how much money you can splash in a single month. But Jesus didn’t come into the world as the heir to a fortune.
The first people to hear that Jesus was born were shepherds; people who spent all their hours working hard on the outside of town, and were probably, at best, just about managing. It was far later that the Wise Men and their gifts came into the picture. They got lost along the way and, at least once, arrived at entirely the wrong house.
Jesus was never rich and, when he went into his ministry, it was the people who were in trouble financially, spiritually and physically, who he went out and helped. So, if you ever feel the uncomplicated message of loving one another gets lost among the festivities, why not take charge of how you celebrate your Christmas and bring that message back?
Here are five suggestions for how to do that:
- If you know in your heart that your ‘best Christmas’ is down to one person in your family working really hard to get everything done, resolve now to help them out. Working together on Christmas as a family will make their day better and make it more meaningful for everyone. After all, one of the easiest gifts to give someone is the chance to put their feet up for a while.
- Think of someone who will be alone this Christmas, in your family or in your community. Why not invite them to your house to celebrate with you? It could make a real difference to their life, let alone their Christmas. Even if they say no, they at least know someone cared enough to ask.
- Peace is a rare commodity at Christmas. Take time out from the fairy lights, packed shopping centres and frantic wrapping and carve out some time and space for yourself. Go for a walk in the countryside or local park, leave your earphones in your pocket, soak up your surroundings and take time to think.
- Check out what’s going on at your local church over Christmas. Services can be loud or contemplative, for children, adults or mixed family congregations. If you want to hear the Christmas story, you surely won’t have to go far to find something on in your area. Go and see. Get involved.
- Finally, here in the UK there are thousands of people trapped in debt who will today be missing meals and feeling lost, isolated and afraid. When we visit CAP clients in their homes, we never leave someone hungry with empty cupboards – why not help to transform someone’s Christmas this year by donating to CAP’s Christmas appeal for emergency food hampers? For those trapped in unmanageable debt this Christmas, these hampers are about so much more than food. Visit capuk.org/christmas to find out more about the hampers, and how you can get involved.
From me, and all of us at CAP, have a very meaningful Christmas.