I Love Christmas ….

It’s Christmas Eve (not in the drunk tank!!) in my house!  This evening we will celebrate together the wonder that is Christmas Eve Mass and, please God, celebrate again on Christmas morning.  It is truly wonderful to see so many people attend Mass at this time of year.  Every opportunity must be taken to make people feel welcome.

Recently someone asked me to reflect on what it might be like for someone who didn’t especially look forward to Christmas, perhaps because of a bereavement or some other reason.  I know there are many such people.  I tried to imagine one of them and took a mother – a widow – who seems to have lost the spirit, the will to be connected.  I’m not sure I captured her but here’s how it went ….




“Ding! Dong! … merrily on high?  Why?

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly?”  Why?

Even the Carols “Silent Night, Holy Night” bring no delight

“Angels we have heard on high ….” Too high for me to hear or care ….


I hate being like this.  I never thought I’d be like this.

Christmas meant everything to me.  I put all I had into it

because I knew the Infant gave all he had to me;

especially the infants; our children, our joy and our hope.

I decorated with the best of them.

I shopped for joy, hoped for peace, cooked to fill.

Joy was there, peace too and empty plates were thanks enough.

We watched Jimmy O’Dea and laughed

joyful laughs at jokes we’d heard before.

Television black and white and all seemed right

ironically, at times, there seemed more colour in the two shades

than the multicolour HD on the 48inch TV.


The cards are lovely.  People write

once a year and try to share

in five lines how much they care

but there’s an emptiness there

that a few xx’s or a promised prayer

won’t make disappear.


I hate being like this.  I never thought I’d be like this.

Some say they prefer Easter to Christmas

Never fully understood that.  I thought it was

To do with weather, days being better,

nights shorter.  But now …

I think it’s more than that.  Christmas reminds us of

all we have and haven’t. 

Of all we want to do and can’t.


There’s so much to miss.

Family and friends gone to God.

Neighbours’ visits and negihbours visited.

Churches filled with regular faces

and …. my own 

who tell me now they’re “Spiritual

but not religious”.


I want to deck the halls, to hear the calls

I want to sing with the mountain topped shepherds

Drum with the drummer boy

Sing “Glory to the New Born King” ….


I’m lonely though – not alone but lonely

I long to see again

the lost faces of Christmas innocence

that count not time in shopping days

But time with another – for another.

How do we get to that place in this endless race?

How do we find what’s been left behind.


Oh, there’s the phone … just a second:

“What’s that Peter?  You can’t come home. 

You’ve written a card …….

That’s fine Love ……

No, no, I’m grand

I understand …..”



I didn’t want to leave it there.  That mother’s belief needed nurturing and her doubts needed to be set aside.  There was too much there – too much goodness that Christ would not want to go without reverenced acknowledgement at this special time of year.  I tried to imagine Peter and his own thoughts as he left down the phone.  It’s not about guilt, at least I hope it’s not, but about coming to that place where reality dawns, decisions arrived at and a difference made.





“Peter, what’s wrong?” It wasn’t a usual question from his work colleague but somehow he didn’t mind that. 

“I was just speaking with my mother on the phone.  I told her I’d not be home for Christmas” 

“Was she disappointed?” 

“She didn’t say as much but I know she is.    She’s been lonely since my father died – it’s three years  now.  She puts on a brave face but I know her heart is broken.  I hated making that call.  I know she thought I’d be home – hoped I suppose, but the boss here doesn’t fully “get Christmas” and sees it as another working day.  Sure you know that as well as I. 

The strange thing is I love Christmas.  The even stranger thing, though my mother doesn’t know this, is that I love it for what it is – God’s greatest gift to the world.  The gift of an infant who can bring such joy if only we’d let him.   I love all its memories.  I can still smell the pines of the Christmas trees my father got “somewhere” – we never asked or needed to ask!  God how hard they worked to make Christmas for us.  The dinners my mother cooked.  The excitement of opening the “dare to hope for” gifts from Santa.  I often wonder did I say thanks …. 

I remember once telling my mother that I was “Spiritual but not religious”.  It sounded so clever at the time though, to be honest I still don’t know what it means.  I’m fairly sure I read it somewhere.  I seldom miss Mass, I never go to bed without even a short prayer and my grandfather’s Rosary Beads is always in my pocket – look! 

God, I wish she knew that for sure – my mother – that she gave me, us all, a real sense of Faith. Somehow it seems unfair that she mightn’t know that.  I’d hate to think that Christmas might now be less for her than she made it for me. 

Maybe I’ll talk again to the boss.  Certainly I’m going to talk to her about this and, as for the card I’d written, that’s for the bin!  For once and for all, I’m going to tell her,  more than that, thank her for Christmas Joy and bring it to life again for her – one way or another. 

Thanks for asking me, just now, “Peter, what’s wrong”.  Nothing that can’t be put right!”


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