The glitz of Christmas sometimes seems overwhelming. As the years have galloped onwards, it seems that the Christmas season has become ever more frenetic and frenzied.
I love Christmas. Every year I read the Christmas story anew, and the familiar words bring that same sense of wonder.
I love carols – the songs of joy and hope – and I enjoy the decorations and the lights, and the giving of gifts. Although sometimes I do giggle when I hear some shopping centre playing ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’ when it’s forty degrees (celsius) outside.
What I struggle with more each year, is the rampant consumerism that seems to be engulfing us all. The push to buy more goes on and on relentlessly, blasting from every speaker, television and sign, and the layer of tinsel and trees seems to grow thicker every second, obscuring the actual story of Christmas.
Regular readers have probably picked up on the fact that I’m a Christian, so the story of the baby in the manger is at the centre of my Christmas. When our children were small, we enjoyed the make believe of Santa Clause – or Father Christmas, which was the name that the big fat bloke had when I was growing up – along with the central themes of angels, shepherds and wise men. It was joyful balance of belief and fantasy.
On Friday, we’ll head off to church, become half of the music team for the Christmas service, and celebrate the birth of Jesus, before heading home for a lunch of prawns, ham, salmon and chicken, and then we’ll top it off with ice-cream pudding and crackers.
It’s so easy to be caught up in the hustle of commercialised Christmas, with its fantasies of snow, reindeer and perfect presents, and forget that there can be a much deeper meaning to the season.
Every now and then I wonder what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in a way that is only fantasy. Of course, many of you reading this probably think my beliefs are fantasy, and that’s fine, but I suppose what I’m talking about is the difference between holding a religious belief (for want of a better description) about the season, versus deliberately participating in something they firmly believe is a myth, whether that be the big fat bloke, or the baby in the manger.
I know that sounds really weird, but clearly my mind does work weirdly at times.
Obviously, other traditions celebrate different things at this time of year as well, so we Christians aren’t the only ones marrying belief with other things – there’ll be a variety of different religious traditions celebrating in their own ways at the same time.
I’d be keen to hear what other people think. How do you celebrate Christmas if Christianity isn’t part of your belief system? Or in fact, do you celebrate it? What do you tell your kids?
It’ll be interesting to hear your views.