Yesterday I took my work to a cafe-I was in search of escape, good coffee and the bustle and wonderful anonymity of a large shopping centre. I always feel grounded in these places as I watch young mums with babies, kids laughing after school, whole families out to buy the family food, old people moving slowly and carefully etc etc. I start to get some perspective and realise the construction of the next chapter in my book is probably not as important or as urgent as I thought. Most people head for the hills for this sort of grounding and renewal-but I really can get it with a coffee in a shopping centre!
As I looked around yesterday I realised how I love the sights and sounds of Christmas-the ridiculous tinsel everywhere, fake snow, ever present Santas, huge, lit up Christmas trees and shop windows with special Christmas offers and welcoming window displays! Everyone complains at the hustle, bustle and amount to get done and yet all around were smiling people, laughing children, carols in the background and a sense of joy permeating the whole place. Is it the knowledge of holidays coming? The anticipation of gifts? The knowledge that we can spend time with loved ones? Is it more? Is there a sense of the deeper meaning of Christmas still there? I was showing a child some Christmas literacy sheets I intended to use yesterday, when she commented,” I love Christmas and know all about Jesus being born”. Surprised, I turned to her and asked her, “Oh-do you go to Church?” “No” she replied, “I have only been once but I still know this stuff!” She then started to tell me how she had really enjoyed the Church experience (I had assumed most children were thoroughly bored by it), and it set me off on many trains of thought!
My parents used to say, “The Christ has been taken out of Christmas”, but I am not so sure. I think Christ is lurking in there with all the bling, glitter and fat, juicy turkeys. I am cautiously optimistic that we still know what this season is all about!
But-I couldn’t help wondering about the holy family and how they must look on with absolute surprise to see what we have made of that quiet yet amazing night when Jesus came into the world.