By: Louise North, Principal
4:00, wallow in self-pity; 4:30, stare into the abyss; 5:00, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30, jazzercize; 6:30, dinner with me—I can’t cancel that again; 7:00, wrestle with my self-loathing… I’m booked. Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness.
That, as you probably know, is the Grinch describing his Christmas Day but even he changes his mind in the end. Whether you believe in the nativity story or not, whether carols mean anything to you or not, there is no denying that Christmas really isn’t the same as any other day, is it?
Things do feel different. There is no denying it. The view outside feels slightly magical, with or without snow, the world goes somewhat quiet, still, silent. In fact, you might go as far as to say that Christmas is less a season, or a period of time, it’s more of a feeling, a Christmas state of mind. Calvin Coolidge, 30th American president from 1923 to 1929. …, once said “To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
Perhaps that is why at Christmas time, we are all a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. Some say that we almost suspend time, we press pause and for a few hours out of the whole year, we become the people that we always hoped we would be… kind, thoughtful, generous, patient, helpful and loving. We are suddenly pleased to see people and to welcome them into our home. We try to be giving, full of hope, good cheer, and as per the carol, we show goodwill towards men. Even those who are sceptical laugh at those awful cracker jokes, some of us relish –and others tolerate – wearing a Christmas paper crown – and we are filled with a warm glow of contentment…
My favourite time at Christmas is late on Christmas Eve when at last I have finished wrapping presents, placing them carefully under the tree and I am getting ready to go to bed. The house feels so still, I can hear a pin drop, I can smell the scent of pine needles and the air feels heavy with anticipation. I take one final look around the house to make sure that everything is ready for morning, and I tiptoe to bed.
This year, like some of you here in chapel and like many across the country, my Christmas will be missing a loved one who has died. At Christmas I will feel the loss of my mum who died in June especially because she loved Christmas. It was my mum who took me to midnight services on Christmas Eve as a child and who sang carols even more out of tune than me, it was my mum who taught me how to wrap presents and tie bows, she taught me how to make a Christmas cake; it was my mum who gave me the Christmas traditions and Christmas spirit that I now have in my family.
I think that Christmas spirit is that state of mind I have talked about. It isn’t about buying or receiving expensive gifts, it is simply about loving others and showing that love for one another. And whilst you don’t have to wait for Christmas to do this, there is something about Christmas time that focuses the mind on what really matters or moreover who really matters to us. Christmas has the power to brings us together in the hope that there are better times to come. So, whatever happens to you this Christmas, I hope you feel that little bit of this magic and that you have the chance to show your love for those around you.