Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christ at Christmas

December 25, 2008

Well I managed the third of my three series of Christmas posts before Christmas is over – even if the last of these is on Christmas day itself!

It’s an appropriate day to write it however, for my third aspect of Christmas is that as well as being a busy time, and a time of celebration, Christmas for me is primarily about Jesus Christ who came from heaven to earth. This is I hope the most important focus for many others too – and Christmas day is the day on which we remember this tremendous happening.

It’s hard to write any new thoughts on this – after all the Christmas story is pretty familiar even to those who rarely venture to church. Even my two year old daughter is familiar with the fact the we remember baby Jesus being born at Christmas – even if it’s the Tweenies’ version that she remembers best!

It’s also hard to find time to think about this aspect of Christmas amidst all the busyness, the travelling, the presents, the time with family too. Writing this blog today is in some way providing an opportunity for me to give time to think about it.

As well as familiar, and hard to give time to, the fact that 2000 or so years ago, a baby Jesus was born in fairly poor circumstances is also mind blowing – because of just who that baby was and is. I know that this baby was the son of God – the one who had seen (and was responsible for) the whole universe come into being, sees (and is responsible for) all the life we see teeming around us – suddenly was looking out on the world from a feeding trough, with baby’s eyes and a baby’s limitations. It’s not something we will ever properly get our minds around.

I know that I find changes difficult and I have to give time to adjust to changes in life and surroundings. The bigger the change the more difficult it is to get used to. If you are raised in one culture and then move to live in another, if you’re being honest, you have to recognise that there might be some aspects of living in that other culture that you will never really be able to cope with. You may never truly be able to live like a native.

This was, for Christ, a cultural change bigger than any we will ever face. That he loved us enough to come here is amazing.

Happy Christmas.

Celebration at Christmas

December 18, 2008

I went into town today to buy a few last items needed for Christmas presents. Oxford city was, as usual in December, decked out with an array of different lights hanging over the streets, a Christmas tree (which didn’t have any working light on – a bit odd!) and so forth. The streets were buzzing as it was late night shopping. The stores were full of Christmas music …

I guess that for most people in the UK, Christmas for them is the biggest festival, and time of celebration, of the year. A time for parties, a long holiday, relaxing, spending time with family and friends, lights and decorations, presents and gifts, Santa and TV.

For me, neither trees nor Christmas lights, nor the all-too-familiar music are at the heart of what Christmas is about. I have some big problems too with the intense consmerism that surrounds Christmas, where stockings are less something in which you put a cherished gift or two, but rather something which needs to be ‘filled’ with imaginative, and completely unnecessary, novelties.

Having said this, however, I do still love Christmas the festival and time of celebration. Winter in the UK can be a somewhat bleak time, with dark days and limited sunshine, the cold setting in and the knowledge that it will be several months before things get warmer again. At this time the lights and festivities can really cheer things up. There’s one street near to where we live where quite a few houses are completely covered on the outside with flashing Christmas decorations. While I wouldn’t dream of having them on my own house, they are interesting and cheerful, and my daughter loves it when we drive past and she can admire them – so, to be honest, do I!

So while this all may not be at the heart of Christmas, Christmas time is still for me a time of celebration and festivity – and it’s good to enjoy it!

Crazy Christmas

December 8, 2008

One of the most obvious things about Christmas is that it’s a bit of a crazy time to say the least. In particular, it’s always busy. Maybe one of the reasons that most of us (Brits at least) have a long holiday between Christmas and New Year is that we need it to recover from the hectic rush which makes up life before (and sometimes during) the holiday itself.

There are the Christmas cards to write (I confess we won’t be sending many this year – mostly just emailed Christmas greetings!) and the presents to buy (hooray for Amazon, Ebay etc.). The house needs decorating and we try and fit in a trip to see the Christmas lights in town. The Chrismas holiday itself is usally spent with families – which is nice – but this means lots of travlling – more busyness.

Then, as a Christian there’s usually lots going on at church – we have our first carol service this weekend, and another the week afterwards, plus carol singing and so forth.

And with the long break at work there’s all that needs to be done in readiness for the shut down – and all the things you want to get done before the break makes you forget what it is you’re doing.

Is it meant to be this crazy?

Christmas is coming …

December 8, 2008

… and far quicker than I feel ready for! The last few days I’ve been thinking about what Christmas means for me, a Christian, a Dad, a Brit.

In reality Christmas has a variety of different meanings, and impacts life in many ways. I’ve decided to write a series of (probably 3, maybe more, but hopefully at least 3) blog articles about some of these aspects of Christmas in the coming two and a half weeks. Watch this space!

Christmas presence

December 28, 2006

I’m currently enjoying a nice relaxing Christmas vacation – in fact, so relaxing that I haven’t written any new blog posts for a while:-) This will only be a short one too. The holiday has been great so far, with the usual mix of a relaxing time, nice food and not too many urgent tasks to worry about. I also had a good number of very nice presents.

However, looking back on the holiday so far, the thing that stands out most has been a number of relaxing walks with my wife, 7 month old baby, and other relatives. These weren’t in particularly outstanding places, and the weather was actually pretty cold! However they gave a chance just to spend time with and talk to those whom I was walking with, making them the highlight of these and many other holidays. Which just goes to show that perhaps the best Christmas present is Christmas presence.

Communication at Christmas

December 15, 2006

Communication is important. That’s not to say that I’m very good at it – but over the last few months, as we’ve desperately tried to get in touch with various people with limited success, it’s been brought home to me how frustrating it is when communication is one sided. When someone communicates you know that they’re interested in you, they’ve heard what you say, and your relationship with them can grow.

So what’s this to do with Christmas? Well, I’ve finally finished the last of my college work for term, so can start to think about that other major task for this time of year – Christmas cards! Yes, I know it’s probably too late already and so they won’t all arrive until after New Year’s day, but that’s quite normal for me… Actually, we probably won’t write many cards this year, but do intend to write a general letter with our family news, and Christmas greetings, and send that to friends that we haven’t seen much recently.

But I know that some people hate these general ‘Chrismas’ letters. It is nice to get a personal handwritten note, but if I had to write a personal letter to everyone I want to communicate with, they definitely wouldn’t get it until New Year. 2008. I actually like the general letters – we got two today, and I enjoyed reading them both. But is this just me? Well I thought it was time for a poll to find out. Would you rather receive just a Christmas card, only a personal letter, or do you like general letters too? Please vote in the poll in the sidebar, then I’ll find out – not that it will affect what we do this year at least …

Christmas shopping

December 6, 2006

Yes December is here – which means every shop has long been decked out with their Christmas paraphernalia and is repeatedly playing the two Christmas CDs it possesses. And almost everything that the shop is selling has artificial snow on it.

You can probably tell already that I’m not the world’s greatest fan of shopping (unless it’s for something technological, when I could browse for hours), and so Christmas shopping isn’t going to be my favourite pastime. About the only time I really enjoyed Christmas shopping was many years ago when we used to be given half a day off by school to do ours! (Or did I dream this – I can’t imagine schools giving half days off for Christmas shopping now! Anyone else have the same experience?) Fortunately, I’m busy enough with work that I have plenty of excuse to avoid all trips to the shops for at least the next week and a half.

However, Christmas shopping presents me with a dilemma. On one hand, I’m all in favour of generousity. Giving someone a gift for Christmas, particularly a well thought out one, is one of the easier ways in British culture to show your appreciation and love for them. It’s nice to have the opportunity to be generous and give.

But on the other hand, there are not that many things that I really need, and so many of the presents given to us can in reality be just a waste of someone’s money, and a waste of this world’s resources. And when we get lots of them they just clutter up our lives, and cause us a headache in trying to find somewhere to put them. One option is to give money, which you can put together to buy something useful that you really want – but it’s a bit boring.

So what’s the solution? Well one option is to buy a goat! (See or for example, if this seems crazy to you) – you help someone who really needs a present, don’t clutter up your house, and you can also treasure a photo / model of your goat for the rest of your life!

Any other thoughts?

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