This year I am struggling with Christmas. I work in both churches and schools so think double figures of Christmas plays attended, a workload that feels as heavy as a pregnant lady on a donkey, and parties dampened by the prospect of getting up early the next day for assemblies, children’s parties, church services, rehearsals and so on. Sooo… rather heretically, I find myself questioning the joy of this merry occasion.
The biblical Christmas story is actually pretty astounding – an incarnation incredibly different to those described in other myths and legends, as the God-Man appears, not as some strange and powerful mystical creature, but as a man. A baby who would grow to be utterly human – weeping at the death of a friend, enjoying meals and celebrations with his friends, praying for aid in a time of desperation – and yet utterly godly – healing the sick, challenging culture, raising the dead, knowing people’s inmost thoughts. I recently watched an animated film, Godman, which portrays this beautifully.
And I have found some times of simplicity, worship, and peace amid the busyness. Our youth group are working on a play for Christmas Eve and sang a song, Light of the World by Tim Hughes, perfectly the other evening. And in conversation with a child at a nursery, she told me ‘Mummy and me are so excited!’ offering me a glimpse into their family preparations.
Nevertheless, the heavy workload, the dark, cold weather and the pressure to do things right can really get me down. Which is why I think it’s important for us to use this time of year to make opportunities to take stock, share food and drink and friendship, talk and relax and laugh. We’re having a few people around for Christmas drinks and I’m hoping it’ll be one of those times – so I’m keeping it simple but special, and looking forward to it.
I think it’s so important when we do these things to not put pressure on ourselves or make it so much work we just feel frantic. So I’m making use of recipes for mulled wine and apple juice, and chocolate pistacio fudge at these links on the BBC website.
Other snacks and drinks will be low preparation and mainly bought, but I am looking forward to making my mum’s ginger log, which always reminds me of Christmas and is so easy to make. Just whip up some cream and arrange it in between and around ginger biscuits to make a log shape. Make sure it’s all covered over with cream and put in the fridge over night. When you serve it, you can sprinkle some ground cinnamon over it and make sure you cut it on a slant. So delicious and Christmassy!
Another useful resource I’ll be taking advantage of is the Amazon Cloud player which makes it so easy to download and play music quickly. I was looking for some acoustic or different Christmassy music but ended up plumping for the usual kind of compilation – The Pogues, Mariah etc.
Now, all that’s left is to delegate the fire making to my husband and we’re all set for an easy, informal evening.
As I read about Jesus, I get a feeling that he knew how to celebrate occasions like this. The Bible says there are different seasons in life, and Jesus himself talked about how there are times for celebration as well as for work. He was a man of deep friendships, warmth and welcome. I think that at Christmas time we should follow his example as we make the most of the special holiday season – and that out of the simplest of things we can find a true depth of life as we share it with others.