Dear Christmas, I hope you look different this year
This was my silent prayer in September as I saw the store shelves begin to bear their annual load of Christmas stuff. A singing reindeer, a nativity set, biscuits and tinsel and platters and bonbons. I couldn’t help but feel a little deflated.
My pet hate is clutter, and I reserve a particular hostility for Christmas-themed clutter. Take Christmas-themed crockery for example. Why should I store a platter that is only appropriate to use a few weeks of every year when I could use another all year round? It feels wasteful and excessive to me. I became known as ‘Ba-humbug’ in my share house when I objected to purchasing a Christmas tree last year. “No one will even be home for Christmas,” I said. “Where are we going to store it afterwards?” I tried. Alas, I was outvoted and the tree and its hundreds of baubles smirk at me every time I open our busting linen cupboard.
It’s been quite the year: of sacrifice, of confusion, of heartache, of slowing, of waiting, of learning and refining. We’re different from who we were last Christmas. We have a better idea of what truly matters. It’s not the things and the stuff. We know that now.
We know that, what matters is the quality time, the competing for elbow room around a table, the big hugs, the eye contact. It’s gathering as a family and as a church. It’s gratitude for simple pleasures like share plates and visitors. It’s giving things away because it means more to someone else. Because we don’t need it. Because we see that now.
This 2020 saw us de-clutter our lives of what was unnecessary: extra hours in the office, full social calendars, peak hour traffic and numbers in attendance at church. Some of the spring-clean broke our hearts: cancelled holidays, postponed weddings, loss of community. And yet, we are better for it. De-cluttering our lives gave us space to breathe, we practised gratitude, we innovated, and we looked after each other.
The space that God created in 2020 is sacred ground. Friends, let’s not re-clutter it. Let’s not be persuaded by old habits, clearance sales and calendar invites. I know this for certain: when we make room for God in our lives, He does not waste it.
Father. Thank you for all you’ve done. Teach us to save space for you, to treat the margin you’ve created as holy. Teach us to discipline our desires and our habits to look more like your heart every day. Help us to show the world what a difference you make. Amen.