…a lot of people gave up on the idea of Christmas altogether.
It is the fourth Sunday of Advent (she proclaimed with a lot more certainty than she actually felt) and I gave up on the lovely idea of lighting my Advent candle on the balcony for reasons of not drowning and have brought them indoors.
And so this is Christmas (nearly) as John and Yoko so memorably droned and what have you done?
Well, we’ve stayed in a lot. If you live in the UK, the news about Christmas isn’t good. If you live in the South East of England, the whole thing is worse than you ever expected. I’m a Tier Two kind of girl myself but am very aware of the pressure of living elsewhere at the moment. Although (digression) I live quite close to Cornwall which is Tier One and apparently full of people enjoying pints of cider on the sunny uplands while rosy-cheeked purveyors of non-essential goods are raking the money in like it is the end of the rainbow. Unfortunately, though they have spent the last few days bailing out their kitchens and evacuating entire towns and the Eden Project because the heavens insist on opening – full on – all the time. However, because they are (a) Tier One and (b) Not London, it seems they are not deserving of our fair Cabinet’s time and attention.
I spend more time on Instagram than is strictly necessary for survival and I do follow a lot of Christian type people. On hearing the news that Christmas is going to be severely curtailed I saw a lot of people putting up advice along the lines of – “Christmas isn’t canceled – Christmas is about Jesus.” and “Remember – Christmas is always like this in Syria.” or something of that ilk.
But, I think it is important to say that there is a process. Extreme disappointment and upset is a natural and authentic reaction and you have to own that before you get all jiggy with faith. The Bible is full of people having a good lament. If something is rubbish – it’s rubbish and you have to go along with that first. You may be mad at whoever you think has caused what is happening at Christmas be it the virus, God, or incompetent, last minute, always putting their rich mates first, government and you have to accept that you are mad and sad and sometimes dangerous to know. And, I think it’s only after you do that that you can begin to find comfort.
Comfort, oh comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem,
If you think about it, to need comfort, you must feel sad first. God is big enough to both understand it and, when you feel ready, help you move through it. So feel free to have snotty cries and, when you are ready, move on to be comforted. And, annoying as it is, Christmas is bigger than the Argos Toy catalogue and turkey with your loved ones who never loved you because of the quality of your gravy anyway. And, almost more annoying, a lot of people do have it a lot worse at Christmas. Crisis doesn’t provide Christmas dinners just to get out from under the general horror of a Christmas Day that develops when Nana has had one too many Advocaarts. (Why is everyone in my family nodding sagely as they read this?) They provide it because it is needed. So, in the middle of this Festival of Incompetence, if you feel you can help someone less fortunate than yourself and have the wherewithal to do so then I would recommend it as a way to aid your healing process. Even if it is just sending them the few bob you were going to spend on booze and After Eights.
So, in what is, for many people, the saddest of Christmases, can I send you the compliments of the season. In or out of faith, I am convinved of the love of God towards us – and that the height and depth of it cannot be overcome. In our house we are about to enter into competitive lot drawing to see who gets to tell Aged Parent it will be the briefest of visits this year – if indeed it happens at all. We went up to see her at weekend and we are not sure what had gone on but she was saying “They better not start with me because I am feeling lippy today!” We have no idea but she seemed happy enough so we have left it.