It was a very different Christmas for us this year:
- our younger daughter was in SE Asia so our family was incomplete
- my husband and I were both sick with tummy bugs
- I took a migraine which prevented me from attending a friend’s wedding
- my Mum was in hospital so part of Christmas Day was spent there
- although Mum was discharged on Boxing Day, she has been very poorly throughout the holiday
- my Mum and Dad had to be moved out of their home to my sister’s home -a very traumatic event for both of them
- my Dad has also been unwell and is suffering from a lot of confusion due to the move
Not exactly the nostalgic picture we all have when we say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Nor the fond image I had in my mind when I eagerly looked forward to the festive season.
- We missed being together as a family – and yes, there was a stocking left with its gifts in it.
- There were poignant moments when we were made aware that one of us was missing.
- We didn’t get to any parties.
- We cancelled a dinner party.
- I missed a wedding.
But did we celebrate Christmas?
I heard yesterday about someone who said that she hadn’t sent her usual card and gift to a friend this year because he wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas due to the fact that his wife had died in September. Now, don’t get me wrong – I understand that the festive season looks very, very different for someone who has been bereaved during the year or who has suffered any other tragic event in their lives, and they will inevitably want to cut out some of the Christmas trimmings.
But can they not celebrate Christmas?
Not if Christmas is all about parties and fun and merriment!
But to say that I cannot celebrate Christmas without all the trimmings is like saying I cannot be engaged without an engagement ring! The essence of Christmas is not found in the parties, just as the essence of an engagement is not found in the ring.
What I discovered this year was that I could still celebrate Christmas without a lot of the usual trimmings – in fact, it was because of Christmas that I could deal with the longings and the disappointment and the worry and concern.
Because God became one of us all those years ago – because of Bethlehem, and because Bethlehem led to Calvary, we still have Immanuel – God with us. He didn’t just step down in to a manger – He stepped down in to the mess which is our lives!
That’s why any one of us can celebrate Christmas, no matter what our circumstances – and that’s why we can step out into the New Year, knowing He goes with us into whatever mess we might meet.
So may I wish you a Happy New Year…..?