The familiar words of the song echo through the shops Deck the halls with boughs of holly!!! Historians tell us that the holly was a Pagan symbol adapted by Christians…the spiky leaves remind us of the thorns used to make a crown for Christ, the berries are as red as his blood and so on, we hear it year after year. The next line is perhaps not so thought about, Tis the season to be jolly! Is it? Are we jolly in the Christmas Season? What is the Christmas season? In the Church calendar it is quite clear, we have 4 weeks of Advent and 12 days of Christmas, easy. Not so in the secular calendar.
Christmas starts sometime in the middle of summer. The supermarkets clear their shelves of BBQ things, have a small section for Halloween, but all the time slowly introducing the puddings and crackers.
Not so many years ago Christmas was a very special time, not just because Jesus was born, but because it was the time when people spent ages choosing a single gift to give to somebody, when children looked forward to a new penny and a tangerine in their stocking….when meat was eaten even though it wasn’t Sunday and it wasn’t stewed or minced from Sunday! Various treats were carefully saved for…such things as the Co-op 4d club meant that mothers would spend ages deciding which little luxury would be on the Christmas day tea table. …..the one big theme of Christmas (other than Jesus birthday ) was anticipation and unusual little treats.
Where is the anticipation today? We are told that as much as a third of the food we buy is wasted…if this is the case in the average week then what must the figure be at Christmas? As we walk round supermarkets we see trolleys groaning with the weight of food, groans that are almost as loud as those of the credit card holder in January when they realise that perhaps Scrooge had the right idea…bah humbug!
The posters that have been up in and around church tell us that however we dress it up Christmas begins with Christ. Does it? ~Sadly for most people no it doesn’t, yes the odd hour for a carol service, a Christingle, and of course the Midnight Mass but only if it fits in with the other Christmas stuff.
So this year my question is “How Jolly are you?” How happy, how at one with the our family and friends and neighbours? How Christ filled is your life…how Christ filled is MY life? The Christmas story happened a long time ago but much of the situation is still real today, the homeless teenage mum, the refugee, the people persecuted for their faith in some cases even to death…as we know there is nothing new in this world, we just get better at trying to pretend it is not there and to blank out the horror and misery by applying a layer of bling and glitz…Let’s stop, let’s try to regain some of the loveliness of the season that does not cost money…perhaps it is too late for this year, the rollercoaster is already on the move…perhaps next year? What will the season be? Jolly, less materialistic? Less wasteful? If Christ is at the beginning of it then it will automatically be all of these things….Just put the humbugs away, even Scrooge saw the good in Christmas.
From all at the Vicarage