I am not one to enjoy the Christmas extravagance and the mad Christmas eve rush to buy presents so it was nice to find, as we returned to Birmingham from picking up our son at Heathrow, that the local shopping mall in Solihull was closed apart from the restaurants. This did cause a few problems as our son really wanted to purchase some toys as Christmas presents for the grandchildren and he hadn't wanted the extra weight when he had all his gear for moving over here. Despite the inconvenience, I was pleased to see the commercialism hasn't taken over fully in the UK.
Although there have been times of celebration at Christmas, we have had few in which we celebrated as a family. So often since our children have been married, Marilyn and I have celebrated Christmas on our own our with one or other of the children. There have been the occasional sharing with either Marilyn's extended family or with my family.
This Christmas was different as we shared with my daughter's family and our son at our home in Birmingham. People talk of the importance of spending Christmas with family and for us, this Christmas was one of those times. Sure there were gifts and food but the most important part was being able to spend some of the day with the family and especially the grandchildren. It was nice to be able to share in their joy of receiving and playing.
Another thing that makes Christmas different here from New Zealand is that here there isn't the summer holiday shut down so Marilyn will return to work for three days next week and I will return to work on the 4th. In New Zealand, many people are looking forward to their summer holidays and an extended period away from the workplace. This changes the atmosphere considerably and in some respects makes Christmas day all that more special.
So was I the Christmas grouch this year? No, I found myself feeling sad when our daughter's family climbed in the car to head for home. The day of fellowship had been important and seemed more valuable than anything else that might have happened today.
The importance of having family around and being able to share with them was really the importance of this day. The fact that Christians want to celebrate this day as Christ's birthday is significant but I no longer have a desire to force such a celebration on others. Instead, I am pleased to see families celebrating together and enjoying one another's company. My prayer is that all might no something of the joy of friendship and love of sharing together as a family.