Christmas: Less me, more them

Usually by this point in the year I’ve got Christmas and Sophia’s birthday sorted. This year I haven’t and I’m feeling it. I’m struggling to shift a perpetual dark mood and am stressed by how much there is to buy, organise and prepare in a very short space of time. Last year I had bought everything by the end of October, worked on handmade items in November and had December to do Christmassy activities with the kids, relax and enjoy the festive build up. This year I kind of just want to fast forward to January…

Don’t get me wrong, I am very much looking forward to the Christmas week itself and spending time with family and dear friends. It’s just the getting there that I’m dreading. There are homemade gifts to be made, Christmas crafts to be done (and baked!), presents to be bought, a party to plan, a Christmas dinner that needs planning (and necessary foods ordered), a newly moved into house that still needs sorting and all this on top of the normal demands of daily life and performed at less than 100% of my maximum capacity due to a small man that has started waking at night again…

I feel like a scrooge just typing this. Sorry for killing the festive buzz guys! I think I just needed to get it out there, to use this as a dumping ground so I can get organised, get over it and not stamp out the Christmas cheer before it has even arrived in our house. It’s also good to have a ‘written’ record so I don’t make the same mistake next year! Next year I’m putting aside a little bit of money each month and starting early.

And actually, as I’ve been writing this, I’ve come to realise how my head is really in the wrong space. Christmas isn’t about the gifts we make, buy and give, it’s not about the gingerbread or the wreath, it’s not about a meal that’ll be eaten in a fraction of the time it took to make. For us, for our family, it’s about remembering the birth of a very special baby, long ago, whose arrival changed everything. As the old saying goes ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’! And if you’re not that way inclined, I’m assuming it’s still not about any of the stuff I mentioned just now. I’m guessing it’s about spending time with your family and friends, it’s about love. We probably won’t remember the calibre of the roasties or gifts given and received in ten years time, but we’ll remember what matters. We’ll remember the smiles, the comfortable ease of being with folk we love, the laughter that brought us all to tears (though probably not what sparked it), the joy of spending quality time with quality people.

And I reckon that as long as I keep that my focus for the next month, I should be able to lighten up, get everything I need to get done finished and have a bloody brilliant December and Christmas. But Christmas for many people and families around the world  this year is going to fall far short of brilliant. So this week my task is to seek out ways of practically making Christmas a little cheerier for those less  fortunate than me and with far bigger worries than me. Our Church works to help support homeless people in Exeter and are collecting small gifts for them and we helped our home ed group with five family Christmas boxes for refugees in Syria so that’s a good place to start. But there must be more I can do than that. If you know of any opportunities please comment and let me know. If not, I will endeavour to find out and update you next week with my plans.

Jesus told us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter those without homes. If I truly believe he’s the reason for celebrating this festive season then I need to think much less about my own (minor) woes and how I can enjoy the next month and start thinking much more about others. If I achieve nothing else but this, I’ll be content. I’m going to think beyond myself this Christmas, I want to help make it better for those that desperately need and deserve it to be.

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