When we think of Christmas we hope that everyone will experience happiness and inclusion and that the celebration of the birth of the Saviour will bring blessings to them. In the lead up to Christmas, there is a scramble for presents, food, beverages, millions of colourful lights, Christmas trees decorated in multi colours, homecomings, joys and happiness that Christmas brings. Christmas should be a time of rejoicing, celebrating, being generous, thoughtful and inclusive of family, neighbours and friends. But, in the midst of all this excitement we must not lose sight of those for whom Christmas is a huge challenge.
The reality for some people is that they simply have to survive. The lead up to Christmas can be surrounded by nightmares of “how can I get over this day without losing control or getting into debt”. The “highlights” for this section of our community make for sad and upsetting thoughts. We think about the people who are alone, those who may be housebound for diverse reasons, those who are lonely and those who are scared of Christmas and its family orientation. These include people who are financially poor, who have not the wherewithal to join in the festivities, the poor in spirit who question the Christian values. It also includes people who are homeless searching for heat and food, those who crave for their homeland, those who are imprisoned who must surely reflect on their misdeeds and are trapped away from loved ones, the bereaved, the broken hearted who may be alone from family or who are separated from children, the sick in hospital or nursing homes and feel isolated and for some, forgotten, those who keep the wheels of the economy moving, those who look after the sick, the emigrants who must spend Christmas away from home family and friends, and for those who feel they have no one who really cares. Christmas for all of these groups is a time for highlighting their plight which is painful and lonely.
Christmas should be about how we can make this time more meaningful for people whose paths we cross. Many today believe that life is meaningless, especially those who lack faith, hope and charity. We are simply cosmic dust, we live, we die. Believing in the real meaning of Christmas, or the birth of Christ, gives us the criteria for discerning what makes human life precious and unique. When we recognise and welcome God into our lives we become stronger and will want to share and care with our fellow travellers.
There has been a drifting away from the values that were held dear throughout the ages, we have been consumed by commercialism, secularism, and most of all, relativism which means there is no right or wrong. In the recent past we see where these values have destroyed the integrity of so many organisations and leave many questions to be answered by those whose greed is flabbergasting. We are bombarded every day with requests to give to those who suffer inequality by the state, a handout from charitable bodies, only to discover that those in charge fed their own wants first. They should have been able to meet their needs from the large salaries paid in the first instance. These were people plucked from privilege and society and it was hoped that integrity and conscience would form their basis to distribute the charity given by others for those in need. What a let- down for so many dependent on their honesty. What a shameful way to conduct their responsibility.
This Christmas, after all the scandals of the past few years, should encourage every individual, no matter what their circumstance to go back to basics and give and share their time, their talents and their possessions with those who need them. People who are in need and who have little of life’s comforts can always give a smile, a warm welcome, an offer of help, a kind word while those with assets can share, even in a small way, to people who are finding life difficult. These are ways in which we can all contribute to restoring faith in human nature at little cost and which bring back the true meaning of what we are celebrating to our friends, neighbours and our communities.
Just reach out today and bring the birthday gifts that the first Christmas espoused to every person and make it a meaningful and happy day for many, many people. Bring back the true meaning of Christmas this year.