Christmas is that

strange and wondrous

segment of the year

where many people celebrate

and jingle bell their way

through a religious festival

for non-religious reasons,

and they know why

and don’t know why.


The season is an anticipated

coming together and affirmation

of family, friends and colleagues,

with parties and drinks

and loss of all those formalities

that are normal and expected

throughout the year,

but now give way just a little,

so that it has often

been called the silly season,

a time of general cheer.


It is the terminus of

what has gone down

in the year (thank God!)

and a time of relief, release,

catching up, kicking back,

and being with those

who mean the most and the least.


But for others it is

the time of imminent

financial and personal strain,

tension and conflict,

and being with people

that are usually remote,

except for this little

patch of time that

obligation creates

and familial ties demand.


Or it is a silent remembering

of a person lost,

making Christmas a

desperate time of grief,

amongst the smiles

and the clinking glasses

of this season’s feign cheers.


It is even a time for

the dull pain of loneliness

for those with nowhere to go

and no one to share

the spirit of the season with.


Nevertheless, we gravitate

to the good and generous

at Christmas, with Santa

and the thrilling squeals of

children who love the gifts

and the giving of this day,

for it is their day to

see all that love can bring

and all that joy can create

in this small pocket

of life’s grace

that celebrates the Christ child.


Indeed, despite all

the bad and terror that

darkens this world,

we affirm all the best

in humankind, not the worst,

affirm the possibility

of being renewed and reinvigorated,

and bring the balm of hope

to the difficulties in life.


And we do all this

among the drinking

and the eating

and the giving

and the listening to carols

that are filled with

“joy to the world” and

other inspiring words which

we sing out of habit

and out of tune.


And even in the

midst of celebration

there is also the

quiet reflection,

the introspection,

and the wondering

about what the year

has brought and

what might have been,

if only, if only.


Then there is shopping,

shopping and more shopping!


Buying attends this season

of frantic pace and

excited gift-seeking

and thinking about

who will be together

on the magical day,

and what we will give

and take, and who

will not be there or even

who we are not looking

forward to see.


Christmas is that

season of ambiguity,

measured in frantic pace,

reflection, working,

buying and not knowing

what to buy,

stopping and going,

travel and visiting,

connection and family,

holiness and generosity,

and the overwhelming

sense of grief for someone

who will not sit down and eat

and smile on this the day

of celebration and tears.