Thursday 23 December 2010: 4 years 3 months on …
I have never been a “Festive Season” person. I could quite easily escape the madness of this period and go from early December into late January!
This will be the 55th Festive Season that I will celebrate and the 5th one since I became ill in 2006. As I look back over the years, I have celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with family, friends, strangers and stragglers. We have eaten our main meal as supper on Christmas Eve and as Christmas Day Lunch and as Christmas Day Supper.
There have been celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere traditions and in the more practical Southern Hemisphere protocol. We have done it the European style and the African style. We have eaten ‘hot’ food and ‘cold’ food – turkey and braai.
We have done it on the beach, in hotels, restaurants and at our home and at your home. We have done it with Grannies and parents, with laws and in-laws, with mine and yours, sometimes on an alternate basis and sometimes, we get it all messed up, and do it on a sequential basis.
We have done it in the heat of the summer and I have done it in the cold of the winter, in the southern hemisphere and in the northern hemisphere, under the blazing sun and in the ice cold snow.
I have done it in North America (in Oklahoma and New York) and in South Africa (in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and, ironically, in Natal).
We have done it –sometimes – peacefully, and – often – with much argument, stress and unhappiness. I don’t think that we are unique in this regard!
Some do it out of habit, some out of conviction, and some don’t know why they do it!
Some, I remember with much affection, such as the only white Christmas in 1976 in Sulphur, Oklahoma, with the Seips and the Whitleys (my American “parents”); others I would rather forget, such as New Year’s Eve on Times Square in New York City in 1987/88; and some I just have forgotten!
But, in the final analysis, it’s the time of the year when we celebrate New Beginnings: a New Year and a new Dispensation for Mankind when Jesus, the Son of God, was born in Bethlehem, in order that we may have New Life.
How we deal with this time of the year is the same way as we deal with Life and its events at any time of the year. It is our own doing and our choice – it lies in our hands, our hearts and in our minds.
I am reminded that one event, such as the massive snowfalls in Europe at this time, can have two very different consequences: on the one hand, there are the beautiful, peaceful snow scenes, the fun of snowmen and snowballs, children all wrapped up playing in the snow, people tobogganing and sledging and skiing and ice skating; and on the other hand, the chaotic scenes of the massive disruption of road, air and rail services, accidents, death and destruction.
Likewise, how we deal with this event of the “Festive Season”, can lead to one of two very different consequences: one of unhappiness, depression, argument, loneliness; or one of peace, happiness, joy, serenity and fulfilment.
It is of our making.
My hope and prayers, this festive Season, is that I, and you, will have the ability to look and learn from the excitement and joy and glee of the children around us at this time. That we will find ourselves at the Manger of the Baby in Bethlehem, that we will learn from Him to live our lives in peace, humility, serenity, humbleness, giving and service to our fellow human beings.
That I may say, Father, take this cup from me, but not my will, but Yours, be done.
I wish all my readers, friends and family, wherever they may be on this Good Earth, a very special, happy and contented Christmas in 2010, and a New Year in 2011 that may be richly filled with God’s many blessings.