By Helen O’Brien, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
I hope you can enjoy Christmas however/wherever/whatever you do. If you struggle please reach out.
There are so many different approaches to the big event and too much guilt if you feel everyone is doing it bette or bigger than you.
Maybe you have had your tree up since the 25th of November (or earlier), or you may follow the German tradition of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve.
We go away every Christmas so often only do the bare minimum in terms of decoration. At school the tree goes up on December 1st, and many hours are spent untangling and PAT testing miles of fairy lights.
Harry is my Christmas elf. He wraps all the presents I have bought while I am at work. The fun part is working out which one is which when I get home.
On Christmas afternoon we often end up swopping unwrapped gifts as mum is not “gluten-free” and my sister does not like Lynx Africa. That is assuming we can unwrap them, Harry prides himself in using no less than a whole roll of tape for each gift!
Harry went to a day centre last year as he is on his own over Christmas and Mick went to Arlo and Geri’s because we didn’t think we could leave Otis (our dog) with anyone.
This year after a few successful trial runs Ian Hamilton is hosting Otis, and Mick will join the Stelfox clan in Belfast, for a traditional busy, food-filled celebration of Jesus and family, God willing.
Becca Johnson hosts the O’Brien/Harry Christmas dinner, often in January. A lovely evening of great food, fun and gifts.
I am an honorary boy in the boys choir at school and we have the traditional nine readings and Carol service.
That’s when I start to really feel Christmassy. Knowing that half the school will hear the gospel is exciting. I am only gutted that since lockdown it is no longer the whole school.
Advent calendars also signify the start of the countdown. I have two reusable ones, one for Harry and one for me.
I buy Lindt chocolate balls in November to refill them and every year I lose them before the first of December.
Harry went out and bought his own Lindt calendar this year as he was sick of waiting for me to find the missing , presumed eaten, chocolates. (Other chocolate brands are available.)
Advent is a strange word. The Oxford dictionary defines it as follows:-
1. The arrival of a notable person or thing.”the advent of television”
2. The first season of the Church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.
Our church does not follow the traditional church seasons but this year Dave bought us all a book of readings for advent – The Coming of the king, 25 readings for Advent, by JC Ryle, the first bishop of Liverpool.
I am loving the daily discipline and the inspiring message looking past Christ’s first coming to His second.
In a week when the official census reported that less than half the population of this country is Christian is it good to look forward to a future when every knee will bow.
If you haven’t picked up your copy of the book there are a few left at the back of church. Praying you have a blessed Christmas.
Helen O’Brien with her husband Mick