“How will you your Christmas keep?” This is the first line of a poem by Eleanor Farjeon, author of the hymn ‘Morning Has Broken’. It crept into my head when I was reflecting on the pressures and the pleasures that Christmas brings.
Appeals from the charities Shelter and Crisis reminded me how for a whole host of people Christmas amplifies their difficulties and their dislocation from other people. And it’s not just those who are homeless.
The Christmas ideal is one of joyful connection and happy families, but what if you don’t have family, or relationships are strained. Who do you share Christmas lunch with?
Christmas Day highlights our need as human beings to belong, to be part of a group, a member of a community.
Every year there is at least one Christmas card depicting a village Christmas scene. You know the one. It has snowed. The lights in the church are glowing warm, so are the lights in the houses and the old fashioned shop close by. Choir boys – always in red – are out singing in the snow. The people in warm coats, scarves and hats are heading towards the church.
This idealised scene is all about community, belonging and togetherness. A great message. But we don’t need to live in an idealised community to express that. We can give that message every time we encounter another human being. One moment of true attention says ,“You belong.”