'In the last 40 years there has been a great shift in the understanding and the reality of family life'. Said The Archbishop of Canterbury 'The family, however it is experienced, is the place where we can be at our strongest and most secure.'
For many people, myself included, Christmas is a time of deep nostalgia. Many of us have fond memories of Christmas as children. We relish old Christmas music and movies, our old decorations, handmade Christmas-tree ornaments and a big Christmas feast shared with the whole family.
As the Festive Season approaches and with less than a month to the grandest festivities of the year, I reflect on family and the importance of having loved ones around us.
The world as we know it is changing so much and the traditions of Christmas that I grew up with hardly exist anymore, even in my country of birth.
Christmas has somehow become about so many other things and not about coming together and sharing the bounties of our harvest. As we move away from our traditions, our culture and our family we become somehow poorer and disadvantaged because we no longer have the support and the strength, which family support affords us.
As my own family moves in their new directions, I start to understand why my mother fought so hard to have the family unit together at this time of the year and why she is still fighting to get us all together around the table at Christmas time.
What happened to Christmas trees that we would wait a whole year to put up What happened to the singing of the carols that always made me teary Oh the beautiful smell of Christmas! The tradition of home prepared foods that took weeks to prepare, priceless.
And the freshly cleaned house that was spring-cleaned from top to bottom because the belief was that if your home was not clean at Christmas it would stay dirty for the rest of the year. So we cleaned and polished and buffed and then we sat in the sweet smell of pure bliss, happy and content.
So what are your plans this Festive Season
Will you be having family over Will you be inviting friends or are you planning to escape to somewhere exotic destination, where you can forget about the hard work of entertaining and cleaning and baking and cooking. Oh and I am forgetting about the most important of those Festive Muststhose expensive Christmas gifts that nobody really wants or needs.
I guess what the Archbishop of Canterbury was saying in his sermon about "the reality of family life", is that those good old days are gone forever even from my own life and I have no intentions of chasing them.
We have to do what makes us and those around us happy. We must be true to ourselves first and foremost and we must not live our lives in an effort to achieve someone else's expectations. The stories that we tell ourselves through our personal and cultural nostalgia tend, in practice, to override the story of what Christmas is actually about: the creator God divesting himself of glory and coming to earth in the person of Jesus as a baby to rescue us and reunite us with him.
This Christmas pay special attention to your family, while not forgetting that we are all one big family.
Let the Festivities begin.