Means what?

20161225_182058The question was asked at church this morning, “what does Christmas mean to you?”

At the time there were a thousand and one answers running through my head. One elderly woman spoke from the heart about the coming of Jesus and how it meant everything to her. I concurred completely with her sentiment and recognised totally the place of gratitude that she spoke from.

At the time I wasn’t just as clear about my feelings. This past week has been one of great joys and deep lows. The virus that assailed much body wrought a deep damage in my mental accuity and ploughed anot unwanted furrow through this week.

Along with the accomplishments of paint that coated our walls there was the blank darkness that illness brings to my door. It is like an uninvited Amazon delivery that is placed upon my doorstep, no signature is required and you turn round to see the dark box looming over your day. An unwanted package that is just there with no warning, sitting like a joy sucking sponge on your doormat.

The joy of a child’s birthday was a welcome distraction from this bleak box, her excitement lifted and melted the ice for a while as she bounced merrily around full of the joys of 12.

Inexplicably the box vanished last night.

Peace descended upon our home as final preparations were completed, afternoon naps and a duck dinner melded into an evening of great calm. The presents were stacked in their bundles on the four corners and the food was readied. Red cabbage was blending with cloves and cinnamon while the Polish liqueur slowly seeped down into the sponge under a bed of custard and cream.

The seven am voices came with unwelcome noise, two bleary parents groaned awake and padded to the waiting parcels. The joy of seeing two offspring excitedly embrace the much longed for gifts melted the tiredness by degrees from the weary adults. Parcel after parcel was unwrapped and greeted with gratitude and glee.

What does Christmas mean to me?

With lunch came two more guests, soup consumed and mulled wine savoured the next round of parcels succumbed to the eager hands.

Turkey and a gross of extras loaded the table two hours later. Father and daughter working in unison to peel, chop and cook the vegetables that garnished the glorious bird.

Sighs of delight were followed by groans of straining tummy, crackers, wine and corny jokes all made the moments at the table better. A facetime with an absent family member added to the joy, and finally the trifle with all of the combined loveliness that cream, custard, fruit and liqueur bring to the heart of a man arrived.

What does Christmas mean to me?

The answer is deeper, wider, fuller than one word or sentence can convey.

For this one day joy is here. I can supply something that brings joy to the hearts of those closest to me. More than the actual presents or food is the time and combination that culminates in smiles, sighs of satisfaction that crack voices with appreciation, that is what Christmas is to me.

Love that gives, gives in a way that elicits a response.

Christmas is knowing….knowing the recipient and answering that.

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