Friday, December 23, 2011


What does Christmas mean to you?

I recently read where a survey stated that 60% of Australians don’t know a Christian. This is a rather disturbing statistic and it’s been driven home to me well and truly while travelling down the Australian East Coast.
It seems that Christmas is all about retail therapy on a massive scale. The country’s retailers are using any method possible to ‘encourage’ us to ‘spend, spend, spend’. Retail figures will determine the fate of the world! Why is this so?
This year Val and I are spending Christmas together, away from our families and friends. This is our choice as we are 9 months in to our 12 month holiday on the mainland of Australia. On Christmas Day we will attend the Hervey Bay Uniting Church service at 8am, and at midday we are having lunch at the Pier Restaurant. Calls to the family will be received and made, giving us a link with our loved ones on the day. We may be away from home, but at least Hervey Bay is giving us the feel of Christmas.
Last Sunday evening we attended a Carol service at the Hervey Bay Uniting Church and it was the best one we’ve ever been to. The spirit of Christmas was certainly evident that night and it was infectious!
Christians however, don’t ‘own’ Christmas, they celebrate what is an essential part of their faith while the secular world celebrates what Christmas means to them.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, peace, reconciliation and harmony. Advertisers tell us that we must spend heaps on food and drink and buy presents for all the family, our extended family, friends and work colleagues, the postman and next door’s dog. Why? You buy presents for people you may not like and get stuff that you don’t need. Sometimes all that is needed is a card, a phone call or a visit.
But Christmas isn’t a good time for those who are grieving, those who are lonely, sick, depressed or poor. How do they cope? Shops are crammed full of things to buy. The push for sales is everywhere, the pressure to buy is enormous. The secular society is firing on all cylinders!
December seems fast and furious as we ‘steam ahead’ to December 25. What then? December 26 (Boxing Day) is the day everyone heads for the stores (again) to be greeted by ‘sensational markdowns’, too good to refuse. Once again people buy things they don’t want, but it makes them feel good, at least in the short term.
It doesn’t have to be like that; it’s all about ‘attitude’. Historically, Christmas was never about spending more money than you have, just to make you and other people feel good.
Not all our family members believe in Christmas, but they don’t believe in wild spending at this time of the year.
It may be quiet here at Hervey Bay on December 25, but I am confident that the true spirit of Christmas will be there.
Whatever you believe in, I sincerely hope that this Christmas is a joyful one for you.