• Rebecca Robinson


Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. A time of twinkling fairy lights draped around frosty pine trees, of snuggling up on the sofa watching festive films and drinking hot cocoa, of sipping mulled wine and warming our icy fingers as we listen to the Salvation Army brass band play, but it is also a time of late night dashes to the supermarket to buy the biggest turkey you can find plus mountains of potatoes and vegetables and all the trimmings, of battling hordes of Christmas shoppers as we try to choose the perfect gifts in shops blaring out festive music, of epic car journeys and traffic jams on the motorways as we visit family, and the dramas that play out as we sit in a room for hours with people who share the same DNA as us ('Really?!', we may ask ourselves). So it's no surprise that sometimes we can get just a little bit lost amidst all the Christmas cheer, chaos and commercialisation.

So this Christmas time, let's take a moment to simply breathe and reflect on the lessons of this hectic but most magical of seasons - that has, for another year, been and gone once more ...

Christmas Day is not just about opening gifts, it is about opening our hearts.

We exchange gifts to show that we are thinking of our nearest and dearest, to express love and gratitude for having them in our lives (even if we may not always feel that way!), and to give them something that will make them truly happy. But we don't have to give presents to enable people to feel loved, cared for and appreciated. That's something we can do all year through by gifting something of ourselves and our kind heart to others, whether through offering a listening ear, an encouraging word or a hug. And this sentiment is why home-made gifts can mean so much to us too. Because they show that the giver has put their time, effort and something of their spirit into creating this gift for us. Whether making a batch of cupcakes, chutneys or jams, painting a picture, writing a poem, or creating a voucher for a few hours free childcare, it is the thought that truly counts. And we can think of others, and give of ourselves, the whole year through.

Christmas is not simply a day, but a state of mind.

The spirit of Christmas is the essence of peace, good will, kindness and love. It is a day to understand and know, deep within, that love is stronger than hate. Always. And on Christmas Day, we get 24 hours to see love in action. But as Mother Teresa once said, 'It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you'. And as a Christian, this message is something that I hold on to. I believe Christmas is a day when what we think, what we do, and our life itself reveals the presence of God within us and amongst us. But even if you do not share this belief, the message of the festive season is as simple and beautiful as snowfall. The message of the season is one of generosity, charity, joy, love and hope, a day for us to reach out and to be moved by the generosity of spirit that we see in others and the world around us, and that is a priceless message no matter what we believe, and one that we can aim to live out throughout 2019.

Christmas means 'home'.

It is a day when we feel the warmth of home wrap us up softly. A time of feasting, prayer and remembrance, a time to think of everyone - and everything - we've ever loved, and a time to remember happy memories and to make new ones that will warm our hearts in the future. We can be thankful for all the blessings we have been given in our lives, and the blessings still to come, and we can express our gratitude to the people and things that make our lives just that little bit more joyful every day of 2019 and, when we can, extend our warm, inner glow and the feeling of 'home' to our friends, families and communities.

So be sure to save a small space in your heart to keep the Christmas spirit tucked away in this year. And when you pack away your 2018 Christmas decorations, just ensure you don't pack away the spirit of Christmas - of love, of charity and of giving - with the beads and baubles too. Here's to keeping Christmas in our hearts in 2019!

Have a wonderful New Year! x

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