There is this spoken and unspoken expectation that everything must be perfect for Christmas. The television adverts tell us that we simply must have a new sofa by 24th December, together with a new dining table and comfy bed.
We buy into this reasoning because it is being shouted at us from every corner. But who really cares if our table setting does not contain sparkling silver napkins with matching placemats and crackers? If our stuffing is being served up in an old pyrex dish with those burnt on marks that appear after a week’s use? Last year I brought to the table, very soft sprouts because I had cooked them, heated them up and heated them up again. Yes, it is a nightmare trying to keep everything hot and by the time those soggy green balls reached the table they, as my sister put it, ‘could have been spread on toast.’
It’s funny how the only person in the dining room that day who still remembers the mush, is me, because I was the cook. Nobody else remembers and nobody else cares. 2017 has been none the worse for the victims who attempted to consume my sprouts that day.
The lady of the house often worries that she will run out of sugar or toilet roll and so stocks up even though realistically, she has only invited two people round for dinner – one who likes their hot drinks bland and both who do not have diarrhea.
The man of the house is concerned he may run out of alcoholic beverages and so gets in an extra 6 pack of beer, two extra tubs of wine, some spirits and a large bottle of cider. You know, for that mystery guest who is going to ring the doorbell at 3pm on Christmas Day just before the Queen’s speech. Who does that? Who turns up at someone’s door on Christmas Day uninvited? Why do we over-stock just in case somebody somewhere will do that? They don’t. Anyone who turns up has already been invited or they are very close family who have been told to ‘pop in’ any time.
But we do lists and mark diaries and do more lists, just so that the ‘big day’ will not be ruined by anything forgotten. I left the pigs-in-blankets in the oven once and it was not until our guest got back home that I found them rolling around on a greasy tray. I rang our guest and said, “Guess what I forgot?” “The little sausages wrapped in bacon.” came the far-too-fast reply. “Well why didn’t you say something at the time?” “I didn’t want to embarrass you in case you didn’t have any.”
So, something’s missing at the table and we cannot remember what. Then we realise we only have ice-cream and custard and forgot to buy the brandy sauce. Whippee doo – so what?
Let us take a big deep breath at all we have on our agenda to do and remember that all God really wants us to do is slow down and think of him. Slow down and give a thought to those less fortunate than us who either have no family to share the day with, no friends to invite round, no roof over their head and no happy cook to present them with a massive plate of hot steaming grub.
Christmas is not about getting stressed over how to decorate our table, how many strips of bacon to put over the turkey, how long will we have to wait for the next bin collection, or even how a loved-one will receive our gift. Christmas is about God sending us Jesus Christ so that we have a Saviour who dies for our sins and brings us back into the presence of our creator. Christmas is about Jesus being called Emmanuel, which means God is with us. I am grateful God has been with me all through the trials of this year and that he will be with me in 2018 too.
So, please ladies and gentlemen, don’t get depressed trying to impress and please everybody. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, not celebrating how crisp our potatoes were and how great a host we were. Throw away the list. If you forget teabags, your neighbour will lend you a couple or you can have a nice cold glass of water.
Whatever you do, I wish you a blessed time – have the perfect Christmas by celebrating the birth of your Saviour.