I hope that you have all had an enjoyable Christmas and a chance to relax and spend time with family and friends. I also hope that you have not thrown out your Christmas tree yet or taken down your decorations! It seems to me that we see Christmas decorations going up earlier and earlier each year and then after Boxing Day, down they come! We are all familiar with the traditional twelve days of Christmas ending on Epiphany but these days most people I know have taken the tree, cards and unwanted presents to be recycled long before the twelve days are up. What’s wrong with that? Christmas is over isn’t it?
Well no, it isn’t actually. In fact there is a strong case for extending the Christmas “season” through Epiphany and until the Feast of the Presentation on 2nd February or Candlemas as it is traditionally called. Now I can understand that you might not want to have your Christmas tree shedding needles all the forty days to Candlemas and the Christmas decorations seem out of place when things are “back to normal” but I do think there is value in holding on to the season a little longer in some way. I know people who keep their Christmas cards up until Candlemas and who keep the crib up until then too. That way you are reminded of those who love you and of the God who loves you so much he sent his Son to be your Saviour.
As we look ahead to a new year it’s good to be reminded of both those things especially if we are worried about what the new year will bring. Whatever befalls us we are not alone. There are people who care about us and who will be there for us in our needs. And God himself will never leave or abandon us even if we feel that others have. Every time we look at our cards or see the baby lying in a manger we can be reassured of those truths.
The message of Christmas is that God is with us, Emanuel. God is still with us even when it’s not Christmas. Let’s do all we can to take that message to our hearts and then we really will be ready to face the challenges with confidence and also be made ready to enjoy the good times that we so hope for.
With very best wishes from Peter and myself for a happy and healthy New Year for each and every one of you.
PS: Thank you all for your cards and good wishes. In lieu of sending cards this year we have sent a donation to the Salvation Army Christmas appeal.
Angela and Peter.