It comes around every year. We always know itís coming, yet every year it seems to arrive suddenly, out of the blue, before we can possibly be ready for it. Itís Christmas of course. I heard the first Christmas song in a shop yesterday. Last week I saw the Christmas decorated shops and the famous Myer windows in Melbourneís Bourke Street Mall. Hearing people talk about Christmas plans. Plans for lunch or dinner. Plans to catch up with family and friends. Plans to have a break from work. Plans for shopping to fulfil that endless gift list.
With all the excitement and opportunities that Christmas offers it should be a very happy time for everyone right? Happy times with others, happy times to celebrate another year, that time to stop and remind ourselves of whatís important, time to get some well earned rest. No wonder people feel so happy.
Hang on a moment. How might happiness come to people who donít have family or friends close by? Donít have money to spend on presents? Donít feel like celebrating their lives because it feels like thereís nothing much to celebrate? Are hurting? Are starting to lose hope? Donít believe in the Christian faith and so would prefer to call it something else or have another time to celebrate yet are surrounded by Christmas cheer?
Thereís much we take for granted at Christmas time when things are going well, when we have family and friends to be with. We can then complain about the rush and busy-ness of it all, how much it costs and how glad weíll be when itís over again for another year. We can easily miss the bigger meanings and what it might mean to people who donít share a life like we have or even share our way of seeing the world.
Christmas can certainly be a happy time for many people. There are photos that show family get togethers, opportunities to stop doing our usual activities for a while and be together. What the photos mightnít show is the stress and pressure that can come with an expectation that families come together. Doing what they feel is right but perhaps preferring not to be in the company of people who donít support them for the rest of the year, or have hurt them in some way. There wonít be photos of the people who donít have family or friends to be with. Spending Christmas alone doesnít give you too much to take photos of. It can highlight that loneliness, that sense of rejection perhaps, that sense of no one caring. This is why telephone help lines have really busy days at Christmas. Lonely people reaching out to cope with the expectations of the day that are not coming to fruition for them.
Christmas can be a reminder of better times past and give us hope of better times that may be ahead. It can be that point in time, that line in the sand, that marker that we can use to look back on the year and decide what we might want to keep and what we might want to do differently in the coming year. Thatís if we feel there are things we can do differently of course. Perhaps thatís why those hot line people are so important Ė to feel that sense of connection, to give hope that thereís always someone who cares, someone who will be there when the people we might really want to be with arenít or can't be. Maybe we can all reach out a little to others, check out their perspective around Christmas before we share our own. That might go a little way to really capturing what the Christmas spirit might actually be about.