As ever, I am loving this Christmas period. I have been avoiding Mariah's All I Want For Christmas (is to cut off my ears so I never have to hear this song) wherever possible, taking advantage of my 'mince pies for breakfast' rule and am looking forward to a rest in the middle of nowhere with my family.
The unseasonal rainy weather, the striking emptiness of Shakin' Steven's terrible song and the atmosphere in the M&S food hall 48 hours before the big day, all amplify how hollow this season can become. We are expected to listen to crappy 80s Christmas tunes, drunkenly get with a lesser-known colleague and nurse a hangover through the queen's speech at an awkward family get together.
"Because it's Christmas".
What does that even mean?!?!
And for those who struggle, we are for some reason expected to slap on a smile and enjoy ourselves, "because it's Christmas", full in the knowledge that tomorrow it will be over and we will be faced with the brutal reality of normal life.
So here's my take on it. We should point people to the 'real reason for Christmas'. Not because I Guess We Ought To, but because the real reason for Christmas is the only thing that stops this holiday being at best a period of anticlimactic escapism and at worst a brutal reminder of all that is lost or still to be or not quite right.
Okay so I recognise that thus far, this is mega depressing. Apologies for that. Ho ho ho and all that.
But, the fact is that the 'real reason for Christmas' is more beautiful, more healing, more mind-blowing that any amount of lights or presents or cheeky smooches under mistletoe.
But, the only thing that could actually save us from such overwhelming despair came into our brokenness and flooded us with light.
But, we have this hope that even in great darkness, death will not have the final say.
But, even when I am forced to take down the decorations and face the bleak, Christmas-less midwinter of January, there is a hope that shines no less brightly for not being covered in tinsel.
Happy Christmas y'all, hope it's a great one.
And if it's not, hope you're encouraged that the light celebrated at Christmas shines into our futures and all that we face.
NB: A guy called Glen Scrivener has written on this topic an awful lot better than me. Check out his blog here.