“Are you ready for Christmas?” asks the hairdresser as she snips my hair in early December. I give an anodyne answer about not having written a single card yet, so, “No, I don’t feel ready for Christmas”.
But what really constitutes being ready for Christmas? The media seem bent on whipping us into frantic, draining preparations, with everything from ‘essential’ festive food and drink to the latest in Christmas clothing, even pyjamas.
We see little in the secular world to point us away from the commercialism of the season.
Advent is described as ‘the arrival of a notable person, thing or event’. Now we are almost at the close of the advent period, it is with a pleasurable sense of anticipation that we look forward to … well, what exactly do we look forward to?
If you are a child, you look forward to Santa’s visit, accompanied by presents. You have been counting down the weeks to Christmas, and hearing dire warnings to ‘behave or Santa won’t stop at our house’.
If you are a young adult, you will likely be enjoying parties, celebratory meals, outings with friends and dividing your time between family members when it feels as though they all want a piece of you.
If you have a young family, you may deplore the busyness and advertising, and the sheer financial stress that Christmas brings. You will shed a tear at the children’s sweet, piping voices singing carols and giggle as you create reindeer footprints in flour on Christmas Eve when you put out a sherry for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph.
If you are an older adult, you will tell your spouse and family that you really don’t need anything – be it household or personal – and will be more appreciative of the company of your family than anything else. You will enjoy cooking festive meals and raise a glass to those who are absent; not just dear ones who have passed away, but those who are working or abroad.
If you are on your own, recently bereaved, going through a tough time, you will long for the whole thing to be over. It’s not fun for everyone, something that is easy to forget.
If you are a Christian, you will eagerly anticipate the opportunity to rejoice once again in the birth of Jesus and you’ll enjoy the services of Advent which revisit the expectation and excitement of the nativity.
This contemplative time is a spiritual antidote to the rush and hurry of the festive preparations.
The word advent makes up a large part of the word adventure – and what greater adventure is there than the epic tale of Christ’s coming to our world?
The words of the late Maya Angelou from her Christmas Poem seem especially apt:
“We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come, Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.”
Thank you to everyone who continues to read my blog. I hope the stars shine brightly for you in the Christmas sky and I wish you a healthy, happy and peaceful festive celebration.