’36 Days to Christmas” is painted with shoe polish on the back window of a local taxi. Does that send you into a panic? Conversations such as ‘Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?’, or ‘Who is coming to Christmas lunch?’ are happening all around. In October the Christmas goodies already appeared in the shops. Magazine articles are appearing, urging us to buy our meat this month before the prices go up. We are given recipes of what to good four weeks in advance so help with the frazzle and instructions on making a centre pice using only a coat hanger, an old sock and some chewing gum. The message is pressure, pressure, pressure. Make this year bigger and better, but on a budget.
I struggle to get the Christmasy feeling ever since I started having Christmas in the Southern hemisphere – singing Christmas Carols on the beach feels just wrong when you are used to singing them in the freezing cold and seeing your breath & the steam rise off people’s hats. A full roast turkey feels a bit ridiculous when you are in shorts and t-shirts. I often tell my husband that they only place I feel is suitable for Carols is the walk in freezers at the supermarket – there amongst the frozen turkeys I can feel Christmasy, until I look down and see my flip-flops.
So what makes Christmas Christmasy for you? It is lovely to spend time together, to eat and gift lovely gifts but is that really Christmas? Does it really matter whether we feel in a festive mood or not? The best Christmases I have had have been when the electricity has been out, or the budget so low that it was just a simple get together.
Amongst the business of the season and the pressure I find it helpful to focus on the real reason for Christmas:
Matthew 1:18-23 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”
By spending time coming up to Christmas focusing on the Christmas story we can help keep ourselves on the right track, appreciating the real Christmas. For the past couple of years I have been writing simple Advent readings for my church, just to help orientate our focus towards Jesus, the Saviour of the World. If you like you can down load of copy of this years notes, A Walk Through the Nativity, and join us as we take a journey through the nativity story. Reading again the Christmas story really makes me feel Christmasy – a feeling of awe and wonder that the Son of God would give his life so He could be my Saviour.