A few days ago one of my constituents, Yvonne, e-mailed me about the Christmas card we sent out and how we relate a Christmas festival to a wider message in a multi cultural society. That made me think a bit more about why I do what I do at this time. This is the result of my musings!
Over the past two weeks I have:
- Helped deliver 6,000 Christmas Cards
- Attended a ‘Christmas in the High Street’ event which was supposed to take place around a Christmas Tree supplied from our councillors fund but got moved to All Hallows church instead because of snow.
- Read a lesson at the Carol Service in my local church.
I have done all these things and more but I am not actually a Christian myself. Some might detect here a great note of hypocrisy. If one does that is not the spirit of Christmas breaking through is it!?
I have done these things for a number of reasons:
We deliver the Christmas card because so many of our constituents are our friends. We also know that even in a prosperous ward like ours a few people would not get a card at all unless we sent one. Even a fleeting greeting is hopefully better than none.
The Churches are a major part of our community. Throughout the year we as ward councillors work closely with clergy and members of different faiths and denominations on behalf of the people we jointly take some responsibility for. We work as a team and it seems only natural to become part of their team at a time like Christmas.
But above all that there is the Christmas story itself. A story which can be thought about and contemplated even if one is not religious.
It is a story of light coming to the world. It is a story of innocence prevailing. It is a story that is relevant to the rich and famous (the Magi) or the poor and humble (the shepherds). It is a story of perseverance against all the odds and it is a story where the family takes centre stage. Isn’t this a story to make us all think; draw what conclusions we might from the thoughts and lead to different actions in the New Year?
This Christmas will be my first as an apprentice grandpa. Eva has just woken us up at 5.30 to let us know she was hungry! It will be a difficult one for my mother who at the age of 90 has broken her wrist which has knocked her confidence a lot. But my family will be coming together in all our various combinations. We will give each other presents (Eva will get too many – I don’t seem to be able to walk past a toy shop these days!) And we will eat well. The most important thing of all though is not being lavish – because we are not – but being together.
The shortest day is now over. You might be a pagan celebrating the winter’s solstice or a faux Viking on Orkney celebrating Up Hellya I think that is what it is called. But most of us have been shaped by a Judaeo-Christian system in which Christmas sits at the seat of mid winter celebrations.
So I hope that we will all celebrate this time of year no matter what faith or religion we have. I hope we will all be able to be with our friends and families and have some good times to buttress us against the chill winds outside.
Erica and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to crossing swords with you or for you in 2011