Followers

Saturday, 19 December 2015

sadness and joy at Christmas

I'm helping with a funeral early next week, just a very few days before Christmas. The family are a bit torn - the man loved Christmas, and liked nothing better than to sing his way through it with a glass in his hand and his family around him. So they feel they should set out to enjoy Christmas in the same spirit. But they feel very sad.

Maybe as we get older, there tends to be more sadness mixed in with seasonal festivities, or at least, more thoughtful acknowledgement of those who are no longer with us. This isn't some sort of gloomy killjoy reaction to the relentless commercial trumpetings and media bollocks at this time of year. We are not simple creatures, and we can celebrate and be sad, miss someone and laugh at our shared memories of them, all at the same time.

Some families do the "empty chair" thing, either because they want to feel s/he is still with them, or just to acknowledge and remember. Sometimes people raise a glass. Sometimes they may just look back and talk about past Christmases.

In any case, I think it's unwise to pretend that sadness within us can't also be part of Christmas celebrations, part of the beauty of a true Christmas spirit, whatever you do or don't believe actually happened a couple of millenia ago in Palestine.

The year turns, the years turn; we lose and we gain; we celebrate and we remember.

Bring Christmas Life

Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,
Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold.
Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold -
Bring the Christmas life into this house.


Bring red and green and gold, bring things that shine,
Bring candlesticks and music, food and wine.
Bring in your memories of Christmas past.
Bring in your tears for all that you have lost.


Bring in the shepherd boy, the ox and ass,
Bring in the stillness of an icy night,
Bring in the birth, of hope and love and light.
Bring the Christmas life into this house.

                                                                           Wendy Cope

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