We are well into December now, and Christmas draws near. It is a wonderful time for families to get together, often from far away, and for relatives and friends to reunite and celebrate and catch up on all the news. The reality for many, however, is that Christmas is not really a good time for a whole lot of reasons.
As many of you may know, I grew up in Ireland and for me Christmas was a magical time. It was my favourite time of the year. It was a major shock to me when I came to Australia to find out that many were indifferent to, did not enjoy or even hated Christmas. I was a grown man yet it floored me. “How could you not love Christmas?” I cried, “It’s the best time of the year”.
I seriously anguished over this for years. I was amazed as I observed a general sense that many people just wanted Christmas to be over so they could get away on holidays. My first Christmas in Sydney impacted me so much, I went back to Dublin for the next 8 years. I loved the Carol-Singers, the party atmosphere and the warm bonhomie that overtook my city of birth.
I grew up in a large family (large by Australian standards – fairly normal by Irish standards). For those of you who came from big families, isn’t it amazing how siblings who grew up in the same house could have completely different views on their childhood. Certainly, most of my sisters have a fairly different view of childhood than mine. I struggled in those years, struggled to find a place to fit in, struggled with heavy-duty bullying at school etc,etc. My experience of life would likely have put me in the place where I too, hated Christmas.
But Christmas was awesome! It was just the best time.
It was only in recent years that I got the revelation of why it was so special. My Mother had a simple but powerful saying that she used throughout the Christmas season:
That meant a WHOLE lot more than just the words. To my Mum, it meant that this was a special time. It was a sacred time, the time we celebrated the birth of Jesus. It meant that we did not behave as we would through the rest of the year. It meant we did not argue, we did not raise voices and shout, we did not fight. It meant that we got along, we shared everything and we were good-natured and pleasant to be with.
It was so powerful. All my Mother had to say was “It’s Christmas…” and that was it. Whenever tempers flared or disputes arose, you would hear my Mother say “It’s Christmas…”. And that would mean the end of any hostilities. Everyone would step back and stand down. Most of my years were pretty ordinary, but at Christmas – “It was Christmas…”!, and it was a haven of love and peace that I have never forgotten.
And that is my Moment of Clarity this week. As we go into the festive season, remember “It’s Christmas…”! Remember what the celebration is really about and perhaps choose my Mother’s words, or your own, to be like an ‘umpire of peace’, declaring this season to be a time of peace and joy.
Have a peaceful and thoughtful week.
All the Best, Brian.