My junior schools were highly religious (all 4 of them) but my family wasn’t. I can still remember now the first time I ever did public speaking, I stood on the school stage and announced ‘We will now sing hymn number 352 – In the bleak midwinter’. That was a cheery song that went to the piano’s keys being hit hard to be heard among the din of singing children. Apart from me, I would mime; I think Mrs Bird was on to me, she would come over pointing at her eye with her bony fingers and pushing it up to my mouth. I was smart in my anarchy; I still mimed the song without singing, but would breathe the words so she could feel my breath on her cheek.
My junior school would also make a big fuss at Christmas with the Christmas story of the Virgin Birth in a stable. I thought at the time that it was horrible that a pregnant woman would be turned away from all of the Inn’s and end up in a stable. It has only just accrued to me, that at the time I had thought it was because people of ‘that time’ were horrid. I thought that it was a thing of the past and it wouldn’t happen now. Of course I was wrong. I think the story of Christmas is the first honest story a child connects with about how bloody awful people can be to each other. Of course three wise men turned up and were generous, so I guess that is the magic of Christmas. It certainly is the bit we have taken on whole heartedly from the story.
Some other things I wish we could take on from the story, is how to help the displaced people in the world and I don’t just mean those who can’t get home to Christmas in the snow. But the people who have had their world turned over due to the economy, or were born into countries with corrupt governments. There are many people who are displaced for so many reasons.
You might not be able to solve the problems of the world, but seeking out one person who needs a place in the world, is one of the nicest things you can do. It might be at the Christmas party, the person stood alone. It might be a neighbour or you might choose to give some of your Christmas present money to a charity that helps people across the world.