If you’re truly honest with yourselves, how many of you sit down after Christmas Lunch and think “Thank God that’s over for another year!”
Christmas today seems to start at the end of August, when big stores put in their Christmas shops, we are bombarded by messages of “only 150 shopping days to go”, and the closer to Christmas we get, the less pleasant people become – everyone focusses in on themselves and their own needs. It’s as if brain cells wither as we rush around like headless chickens, and rather than the season of goodwill to all men we become ignorant, arrogant and rude.
For example, at the beginning of December I went to a local supermarket at a reasonable time (9:30), and the car park was already one in one out! People seem to think that it is OK to literally park anywhere, and town resemble zoos.
Why do we do it? The only people who seem to benefit from Christmas nowadays are those in the retail trade, and the credit card companies.
It’s the best time of the year for family feuds and bust-ups. I don’t know about your supermarkets, but where I live it’s like people are buying for a siege or feeding the five thousand – the shops are only closed for 48 hours at most. In January the first thing we do, after all that self-indulging and gorging, is join a gym or weight-watchers to lose the weight, only to put it back on the following Christmas. And, by using credit cards, we end up paying for Christmas all year.
Christmas is not about how much you spend, or whether you get a better present than your best mate. It’s about hope and love.
I’m not going to get all religious, but we should remember that underneath the turkey, mince pies, christmas cake, wine, beer, presents, et al Christmas is, at its root a religious festival celebrating the birth of a baby symbolising hope.
I found this, which I think sums up what Christmas should be very nicely:
A week before Christmas I had a visitor.
I was getting ready to go to bed, when I heard a noise outside.
I opened the door and to my surprise Santa was standing there.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
But Santa was SAD and he had tears in his eyes.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN!” he said.
I was puzzled! What did he mean?
In a flash he produced a miniature toy bag.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN!” he said again. “Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The meaning that Christmas nowadays has forgotten!”
He reached into the bag and pulled out a FIR TREE.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – the Fir Tree is evergreen, symbolising the everlasting hope of mankind. Its needles point upwards towards heaven.”
Then he reached into his bag and pulled out a STAR.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that the star was a heavenly sign of PROMISES fulfilled long ago. The shining hope of mankind.”
He then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDLE.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that the candle symbolises that Christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great LIGHT we are reminded of He who displaces the darkness.”
Once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that the wreath represents the real nature of LOVE. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous round of affection.”
He then pulled from his bag an ORNAMENT of himself.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that I, Santa Claus, am a symbol of the generosity and good will we feel during the month of December.”
He then brought forth a HOLLY LEAF.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that the holly plant represents IMMORTALITY. It represents the crown of thorns worn by our Saviour. The red holly berries are the BLOOD shed by Him.”
Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that God so loved the world that he gave his begotten son. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable GIFT.”
Santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE.
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that this cane is the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps to bring back strayed sheep to the flock. The candy cane symbolises that we are our brother’s keeper.”
He reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that it was the angels that heralded in the glorious news of the Saviour’s birth. The angels sang “GLORY TO GOD in the highest, on earth PEACE and GOODWILL towards men – ALLELUIA!”
Suddenly, I heard a soft tinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL
“TEACH THE CHILDREN – that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring mankind to the fold. The bell represents GUIDANCE and RETURN.”
Santa looked back and was pleased.
I saw the twinkle was back in his eye.
He said, “REMEMBER, TEACH THE CHILDREN the true meaning of Christmas and do not put me at the centre, for I am but a humble servant of the One that is, and I bow down to worship him, our LORD, our GOD.”