Saturday, 3 December 2011

There's no such thing as a perfect Christmas

My past couple of posts have been very upbeat about Christmas, this reflects my own excitement at its approach and love of all things sparkly. However, I am aware that Christmas is not entirely positive, for some it can be a horribly difficult time of year, when loneliness and sadness are intensified by the sense that everyone else is celebrating, or a time of family tension and argument. Christmas is held in that same tension as everything else on this earth between good and bad, it is as flawed as we are.

It was always so, some aspects of the original Christmas cannot have seemed too wonderful to the protagonists, especially Mary and Joseph. I doubt many NHS birth plans involve a 70 mile journey on a donkey in the last month of the pregnancy, followed a birth in a stable, surrounded by animals. Neither would a straw filled manger fulfil any of the health and safety criteria required by a modern (first world) baby's crib. Though sadly for a great many women across the world child birth is still not an experience too far removed from Mary's.

Therefore if even the first Christmas, with its angel choirs, miraculous conception, congregation of magi and shepherds and a guiding star, all so carefully arranged by God, was not perfect*, can any Christmas be perfect? This lie, peddled by a thousand magazines, newspapers and shops all desperate to get a sale, means that we can place ourselves under so much pressure for everything to be right. Exactly the right dress, the right present, the right turkey, cooked the right way, the right family gathering, the right décor, the right relaxed festive atmosphere in which the air sparkles with quiet joy. No Christmas is ever perfect or ever has been, just as this earth is not perfect; if everything were perfect there would never have been need for a Christmas.

Indeed, why having the perfect Christmas is held up as such an ideal is beyond me - imagine it, no Christmas would ever be as good again! Far better to let off the pressure and aim for a peaceful, fun Christmas, your Christmas, different from everyone else's, even if there are so many elements in common. Most of all this Christmas I personally want to remember why Christmas exists and remember that Christmas contains the greatest reason to celebrate we will ever know, whatever our circumstances, in the person of a tiny baby in an imperfect crib, come to perfect an imperfect world.

*At least not perfect in human terms that is.