I love Christmas. I always have. I remember as a little girl walking around the neighbourhood looking for pine branches to make Christmas trees. I would spend most of my pocket money on cotton wool to make snowflakes (weird I have never even seen Christmas flakes). We would play my parents old Jim Reeves records on Christmas and listen to “I am dreaming of a white Christmas” not even sure what a white Christmas was.
In those days we were assured of a great time with our cousins in family get-togethers and Christmas ran for a week with party after party. Talk about Christmas spirit. Even the only television station did not disappoint with programmes such as Dickens a Christmas story and Ring us up (a programme where you could buy stuff on air, it was aired annually).
My parents did not buy into all the Santa stuff but we lived in an area where pine trees were plentiful and we were more than glad to help our neighbours prune their hedges by pulling off branches and converting this into Christmas trees. Apart from the aforementioned cotton wool, we made our own Christmas decorations. It was loads of fun.
It saddens me to see what Christmas has become. Children no longer look forward to Christmas, no new clothes, no great get-togethers, no special programmes. Somehow over the years we have forgotten what Christmas is all about. For business people it is a time to maximise sales to make up for those two days when business is closed.
Somehow that last week to Christmas everyone is hustling and jostling and there is no much cheer going on. Everyone wants to buy something last minute and the sales are a joke.
For most stores, it is the time to get rid of all the dead stock. Back in the days, the mayor even put up a tree at the city centre and it was a treat for all kids - actually it was an outing to go to town and look up the mayor’s tree.
A couple of years ago the mayor made an effort to resuscitate that tradition but the miserable looking half dead plant with a few balloons and strings of crepe paper was a sorry rendition.
As a Christian, the saddest thing for me is not the loss of the mayor’s tree, or the many drunken parties or even the fact that for most employers Christmas is any other public holiday - a loss for business.
The saddest thing is the loss of the spirit of Christmas. The whole reason for the season. I see it in my own attitude sometimes, more so like now with the helper gone off for Christmas and the hustle of making it special.
I find myself short with the boys and their dad, because I have to put up decorations (which they had better not tamper with) and make cookies and other treats (which they cannot eat till Christmas morning).
The focus for me is becoming more the one time occasion than the continued experience of God’s love and grace. I am so caught up in making the house look perfect in case of unexpected guests than ensuring my own kids enjoy the season.
This year I will work at getting back some of the spirit of Christmas. I will choose not to focus on cleaning on the one day but instead focus on the experience. I will choose to make it special by remembering the whole reason for the season: God’s precious gift of love. If my family is walking on eggshells, salivating over all the stuff that they would love to eat but can't because the schedule is not right, or have to eat with the saucer glued to their lips so as not to leave crumbs for me to clean, is it really Christmas for them? Isn’t the whole season about celebration of God’s gift?
Well, I guess that is all about to change. Today I will take time to remind the children what the Christmas story is about. I will take time to watch shows they enjoy and let them help me make stuff for all of us to enjoy and if I don’t get to clean the house just right and make a perfect meal that’s ok. I will teach them about Christmas and sharing and celebrating; not just by reading them the story, but by living it. I pray that the same will be your portion this Christmas. Have a merry blessed Christmas. I know I will!