A friend shared how she was dreading Christmas.
“Why?” I asked, sad she didn’t share my joy.
She explained, every year she has to suffer affluent, obnoxious relatives lecturing her about her alternate lifestyle, and how she’s afraid her son might feel bad with his more simple presents etc. (she’s an artist and lives on a canal boat with her partner and son – lovely lady!). I suggested, enduring the day for the sake of family unity, but having a separate Christmas of their own before or after. She liked the idea.
Pondering about it later I thought how much closer she was to the real story.
The true wonder of Christmas is that God didn’t choose an affluent Roman villa, or well to do folks. He chose a humble middle eastern village under enemy occupation, a place among animals, probably a bit smelly and definitely poor. He didn’t go with the “status quo”.
Nowadays the spirit of Christmas is often camouflaged, distorted by greedy, media advertising. Maybe that’s why my daughter and I are jumping up and down (sometimes literally) with joy that its “that season” while others seem bogged down in preparations etc.
Christmas approaches, its warm fuzzy feeling felt afar off, first presents have been bought and boxed decorations stand really for commission. Yet along with this dawns a slight apprehension. I know food, decor, and Christmas presents alone are not enough. Not even family gatherings and parties, pleasant though they are, are enough to satisfy the ache for Christmas that surfaces in my heart at this time of year.
I recall an incident with my youngest daughter the Christmas we returned from the Far East. In spite of finally having a Christmas in England where it was celebrated (and there was at least the possibility of snow) we all felt something missing. We were pretty hard up and knew presents would be small but that didn’t worry us at all we were a happy thankful crowd. We were invited to my eldest daughter’s house where Christmas would be celebrated in style with perfect decor, and expert cooking, nothing missing to welcome her family back to London, yet still something didn’t feel right.
We were by the shopping mall when it happened. We saw a homeless guy looking dejected, his cardboard sign showing signs of much use.
“Can we give him some money mum?” she asked. I hesitated wondering if he might just spend it on drink or drugs (the UK has a good welfare system so the homeless often tend to have some problem). Then I had an idea. Going to a nearby snack shop I helped her choose a sandwich and hot drink which she gave with an encouraging smile, telling him.
“We thought you must be cold so we bought you a present.”
The man beamed and thanked us profusely. I guess the food showed more concern and was more personal than a dropped coin.
As she walked away she whispered, “Now it feels like Christmas.”
Last year I donated to “Crisis” to sponser a homeless person to spend Christmas at one of their centers and to get help and advice. My check is once more in the post but this year I want to do something more. What? I’m not sure but I’m looking out for it.
Youth is not lost which was spent in earnest coinage, the days exchanged for experience, for life! A day is not wasted if drained in a deep draught till the last drop. Not lost, rather stored away, their transitory substance exchanged for solid coinage of the realm of life, time transmuted into lasting substance, those things in the heart and mind which can never be erased. Youth is not lost but transformed, a thing of wafting beauty refined to solid gold.