In my memory bank of Christmas past is a beautiful holly tree that adorned the garden of my childhood home. For most of the year it went rudely unnoticed but upon December’s arrival the requests for a share of its bounty were many. Each year my Dad - armed with gloves and secateurs - would face more than a few prickly moments as he harvested sufficient boughs to share with friends and neighbours making wreaths and table decorations.
The Christmas adverts want us to believe that “all is calm, all is bright” but reality knows that throughout this festive season we too may experience some prickly moments.....
....when the gift is right but the size is wrong
....when tempers are short and “to do” lists are long,
....when the love still burns but the person has gone.
“For God so loved the world he gave his only son,” (John 3:16) - whose redeeming death is symbolised in the holly's evergreen, prickly leaves and bright red berries - and assures us “Immanuel – God with us” (Matthew 1:23) even in our frustration, tiredness and grief.
May we each be very aware this Christmas of God’s loving presence in the pain of the prickly moments.