I’ve hung up the decorations, lit the candles, bought the brandy butter and made the necessary arrangements. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… but without the trimmings it’s all a bit..well, turkey-ish.
In part it’s about expectations. Birthdays, Valentine’s Day and News Year’s Eve are the same. You’re meant to have THEBESTFUNEVER because EVERYONEELSEIS. But after ten minutes of charades (literal or metaphorical) my smile starts to twitch and I long to hide under the coats till it all goes away.
But that’s not all. I’m a Christian. I *know* it’s not about the presents and the bling.
It’s about Jesus coming. That’s the *answer*, right? But it’s not translating to my heart. What should be good news of great joy has somehow gotten diluted to this weird empty sadness. Does anyone else get this?
Manger by Conran, shepherds with designer stubble and wise men bearing fine fragrance and baby massage oil from Harrods. They’re feeling it. But I’m not. I’m not glittery and beautiful and on trend or expensive. And neither is my Christmas.
So I’ve been looking back over the gospel story. Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Here’s what they’re feeling:
the prickle of hay and the smell of manure.
the stress of being driven far from friends and family.
fear that their baby would be slaughtered by Herod – and sadness for the children who had already died at his hands.
no map for the present, let alone the future.
Not so cosy. Or easy.
The Harrods Christmas is impressive. Shiny. Edgy. Hard. But try as I might, I can’t see my reflection in their window display. I can’t even get close.
But the baby in the stable: he’s real. There’s room for me – and you – around his manger. We can smell the animals and feel the draft: but looking at his face we know – it’s gonna be okay.
Which is worth celebrating.