On the 8th of December I posted my first “Christmas Short”. The idea was to post a number of these over the Christmas period, but then the usual chaos kicked in. Having spent the past few weeks internet shopping, wrapping presents and frantically stitching handmade cross-stitch cards for the family (yes it seemed like a good idea at the time) I have genuinely struggled to connect with the real “reason for the season”. It hasn’t helped that, like many people, I’ve been dragging myself through 2016 and Christmas feels like the final hurdle to jump after a long year.
I recently read an article in the Telegraph with the title:
“Seasonally stressed? How to outsource your Christmas to the professionals.”
“A 2015 study by the National Accident Helpline found a quarter of Britons feel stressed over the festive season, while a third of women feel more stressed in December than any other month. So if you feel your Christmas Spirit has been extinguished by the burden of responsibilities, perhaps it’s time to take drastic action.”
(Boudicca Fox-Leonard, 2016)
My big sister would completely agree with this statistic as she has never really been a fan of Christmas. She sees it as something to be endured rather than enjoyed. It’s normally my job to convince her otherwise, but I found myself genuinely struggling this year!
For those who would like to read the original article then have a nosy on the Telegraph website. In summary the “drastic action” that is suggested is basically, “pay other people to do loads of Christmas stuff for you!” For £3 a gift there is someone who will wrap and deliver your presents, a cook is available to deliver Christmas dinner and for just £16 there’s a company that will write, address and deliver 10 Christmas cards for you! Well that’s next year sorted then…
As I sat moaning about the busyness of Christmas I openly acknowledged to my sister that, out of the two of us, I really shouldn’t be feeling like this. I was the one that was meant to be “keeping Christ in Christmas” and yet I seemed to have fallen short this year. If you’re like me and the constant “feeling festive” Facebook updates are making you feel like the Grinch then it’s ok, there’s still hope for us!
Christmas isn’t over yet…there’s still time…
I decided that the “drastic action” I needed to take was to get my focus back where it needed to be. A couple of weeks ago I bought a beautiful book called, “A Walk One Winter Night” by Al Andrews. In all the rush I hadn’t had time to read the book and had propped it next to the nativity scene and carried on with the Christmas tasks.
So, last night I picked up the book and read it to my husband! For those who know us well, then yes, it was as surreal as it sounds, but it was also exactly what we needed.
The words of the author resonated with me and I realised I wasn’t the only one who felt like this. In the book Al Andrews describes a walk on a cold winter’s night where he stumbles upon a nativity scene in someone’s front garden and feels compelled to stand and reflect on what he sees before him.
“I remained standing, trying to stay warm. Looking at them through a gauzy mist, I pondered. I simply couldn’t relate to them in any way. They seemed remote and untouchable, just like this season had become for me. With considerable guilt I wondered, “Why don’t I like these people?”
(Al Andrews, 2013)
As I read the words I could identify with the guilt of disconnection and the feeling that Christmas really has become a “burden of responsibility”. I know I’m in serious danger of oversimplifying things but isn’t our “burden of responsibility” to love…and is it really a burden or is it a privilege? Whether you call it the “reason for the season” or “keeping Christ in Christmas” the following words are at the core of Christmas.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We hear these words so often that they begin to lose their meaning, just as we may feel disconnection to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men. I don’t believe that Christmas was ever meant to be a “burden of responsibility” and I know that this year I have let my heart become distracted. Inspired by “A Walk One Winter Night” I will be spending the rest of this Christmas season trying to reconnect with the truth held within the nativity scene.
For God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son, so that, if I believe in Him, I shall not perish but have eternal life.
Have a blessed Christmas everyone!