You may find that Christmas, or the run-up to Christmas which the church calls Advent and everyone else calls Extended Opening, fills you with delighted expectation, good cheer, and a warm glow inside.
You may find that eighteen verses of Little Donkey, crystallised fruit three years past its sell-by date and Cliff warbling festively in a nice cardie fills you with something else inside which we won't go into now.
|Boston Stump with the Ingram memorial.|
For you, like me, it may be a case of a bit of both; but Christmas has always been a paradoxical festival, both one thing and another at the same time. We are all part Santa, part Scrooge.
I think this is because the real gift of Christmas is so staggering that we can't really make sense of it. This little baby, watched over by Mary and Joseph, picturesque shepherds, wise men with lovely manners, and a well-groomed ox and an ass, is God. Not a God of trumpets and thunderbolts and armies, but tiny and vulnerable, like us. And what's more, knowing full well our infinite capacity for stupidity and cruelty and indifference, he will surrender his infinite power and die for us.
It is, literally, an amazing gift, more than we can comprehend, let alone deserve, and our imaginations fail. But sometimes we half know it, when we're generous and compassionate and cheerful. May there be peace on earth and goodwill this Christmas.