28 Dec 2012

Christmas = ? (Joy?)

Christmas has been and gone now and I'm trying to take a few moments to reflect on what I will take away from Christmas 2012. 

I don't know how your Christmas was but I really enjoyed mine. The standard set up of the day is that my family wake up about 7:30 and we open our stockings that Father Christmas has brought us before getting dressed and ready for Church. Go to Church for a shorter than normal service of celebration and then back home to either drive to my Aunt and Uncle's or make sure our house is in a decent state to host everyone. This year it was at our house and my brother had taken it upon himself to do the Lion's share of the cooking; he is excellent. So then my Aunt and Uncle and their kids arrive along with my Grandparents and we all have a celebratory drink and open a few presents. Then lunch happens, followed by "The Bomb" (a Summers/Allen tradition of layers of ice cream fashioned into a Christmas pudding shape). After this is the "fatting out" time - or time when we all lie on sofas watching the Queen's speech/chatting. The rest of the afternoon is a mixture of game playing, napping, joking around and playing with new toys. This all culminates in evening tea about 5:30-6pm which is loads of leftovers and sandwiches if we have room to stuff anymore in. Our evening normally consists of skyping my family in the States and seeing them before they have their Christmas dinner and watching Downton 

So why was this year good? Well my Grandad hasn't been in the best of health over the 
last few weeks and it was touch and go as to whether he or my Nan would be joining us for the

day. My Grandad isn't a Christian and my Dad had prayed with him on Sunday that he would be healed - Christmas Day he was feeling a lot better. Praise God! We are always hoping and praying that he will realise his need for God and try to give him as many opportunities to find out more as we can.

As well as this I have to confess that I hadn't been feeling particularly Christmassy in the run up to Christmas. We have limited Christmas decorations at my house in London and despite being at a number of Carol Services, the true wonder of Christmas seemed to 
elude me. Maybe it's because of the relentless retail industry that misses the point of what 
we celebrate, or maybe it was a lack of time/effort to really come to terms with this story.

Whatever it was, come Christmas Day it was gone. 

Firstly, remembering that Jesus was a gift and that I am lucky to have received him. Plus giving makes me happy. Being generous is a blessing to both receiver and giver alike. Christmas is a beautiful opportunity to exercise this gift. 

Next, everyone at Church was super joyful and happiness encourages my heart and makes me happy; I find that if I surround myself with people who are sad/depressed it can make me feel that way too, whereas if I have people who are appreciating life around me, it motivates me to think that way too. Seeing people rejoice in Jesus' birth is such a boost to 
rejoice too.

Lastly, I think Christmas sometimes is portrayed as a perfect time with families, rather than the realistic time with family. Clearly a day is never going to be perfect and if you think it is going to be your expectations are likely to be disappointed. I doubt Mary's expectations were to give birth in a stable, yet a wondrous day in history happened there - she didn't let her expectations ruin the day. I don't mean we should all have ridiculously low expectations, rather that we should be willing to see what God is doing around us. I think I understood something more of that this year. Expectation is overrated.

How was your Christmas?

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