Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas De-Trimmed

I’ve been somewhat of an observer of Christmas this year. The me that usually partakes fully in everything Christmassy I can possibly fit in has been overcome by the weakness of my body and so I’ve been sitting on the sidelines; firstly at home, watching as my family took part in carol singing, parties, services and school events; and now in hospital, hoping very much for a get-out-of-hospital-free card for Christmas Day.

So where does this fit into the Great Adventure? What can be possibly said to be of any good about this situation?  I’ve cried myself out, ranted and rallied, and then given in to the good of finally getting IV treatment (and that’s another story I won’t bore you with right now.)

It’s made me think about a few things though. What is Christmas when it is all stripped down? What is it when observed from a sofa or sickbed? What is it when someone cannot join in the festivities and the events, save in their mind and spirit?

Perhaps when Christmas is stripped down to its bare bones the truth is revealed. Perhaps behind the tinsel and the mulled wine there is a glimpse of something much more profound, much more thunderingly awesome. To avoid the use of the <too> much-used phrase ‘put the Christ back in Christmas’ we can find that Christ was always in Christmas, and Christ was always in everything. The incarnation of the Son of God is there at the heart of it all.

Not that carols and parties are mindless frivolities and that I am somehow rising above them in a martyr like fashion – I’d far prefer to be an active partaker. More that sometimes sitting back and being hit again by the ultimate truth behind the season can be important. It would be good if everyone could find time in the midst of this fraught last week before Christmas to think on these things – it’s easy for me, it’s writing blog posts under the influence of IV meds or watching endless Jeremy Kyle. Hmmm. <sulks at not having internet>

What is it about the incarnation that makes it so incredible, that somehow makes everything work, brings peace to those in the most desperate of circumstances? Possibly the simplicity of God loving the world so much; possibly the mind blowing way that Jesus lived among people, walked with them in their sorrow and sickness and pain. And still does today. It’s not only that, though. It’s something in the way Jesus was born not as a king in finery and riches. He was born in poverty and weakness. God identified with all that was not strong and successful. In the weakness of beginnings God showed that God is with us in more than just a cold and theoretical way. God really is with us in the mess, and however weak we are, whether in sickness or in other ways, knowing that can change everything.

I can’t say I am happy to be here and content in suffering and all that malarkey. But when I look at this beautiful celebration I’m amazed, and I’m living in hope, and I’m finding peace in the brokenness. I hope you all, in all your life situations, can find something of the immense love of God for you this Christmas.

And so the lonely, the sick, the downtrodden can know that Christmas is good. Please remember them in your own busy lives. I wonder who I can bring this hope to this Christmas.

Now, bring on the tinsel and mince pies, because the food here is rubbish and the decor somewhat lacking...;)

Saturday, 10 December 2011


I’ve put up decorations today and helped the children put up and decorate the Christmas tree. I’m so thankful I’ve got enough spoons today to do this. Last week would have been a different story. Last Saturday I was miserably pondering the possibility of never being able to do anything Christmassy again with my children due to being so low on reserves and breath that it was all I could do to crawl on to the sofa and grumpily read everyone else’s Facebook comments about days out with the family, Christmas baking and craft and great parties. Everyone else was having all the fun, it seemed, and I wanted to shout at them, how dare you be enjoying yourself and doing nice things with your families when I am stuck in feeling like this and my children don’t ever seem to get the best of me?

Of course, I didn’t mean that, not really, and I didn’t write an attention seeking status update telling everyone that I felt that way and to shut up. Because really I was loving hearing about people’s days and fun and family time, and I will always want to hear that. But there is something inside that mourns the loss of such times, and as the disease progresses the times become less. I have to grab what I can with both hands and be delighted at the days I can partake in such. Today is one, which is a good thing as we are having a party later. Despite waking up feeling like today wouldn’t work it has so far. And a small thing like putting the tree up with carols in the background and children dancing around with tinsel in their hair has made me smile, has made me appreciate what I have.

I know I need to be able to deal with the possibility of having less days like this one, and finding delight in things anyway. I cannot only be happy when I feel better. My challenge is to smile on the bad days, to smile last Saturday. To be happy last Thursday when Adventure Bloke went to see the Adventurous Pair sing at the Young Voices concert in Birmingham – to smile that even though I couldn’t go, they were experiencing it anyway, and forming lovely memories.

But I’m not very good at that really. I think it’s OK to grump as well. Nobody’s perfect, after all, though of course Adventure Bloke comes close ;)

I guess I need to live for each day. Even if I can find a moment in a bad day where I see the good, it can lift me beyond myself. It’s not all about me!  One thing all this does is help me think of those who are much more poorly than me, those housebound, those on 24/7 oxygen, those not able to get out at all, and how they feel. It gives me a small glimpse into how it can be so isolating and lonely to be in this place. It inspires me to wonder what I can do to help.

Today I’ll make the most of today. And tomorrow may not be so good. But at least I got to put up the Christmas Tree with my children. At least I got to make mince pies and tut at all the glitter on the floor from their wonderful artistic creations. At least I’ll get to enjoy some mulled wine and chat to friends. At least for today. And that’s good.