For believers, the epitome of Christmas is worship, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s the centre of our thoughts and preparations. Everything else – the gifts and the Christmas tree, are peripheral. Our mood music includes Christmas carols like ‘Silent Night’,and ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’, all underlining church notices and bill boards declaring, ‘Jesus is the reason for the Season.’
The other goal for Christmas is the Great Annual Get-Together. Family and friends travel thousands of miles for it. It is ‘Holy ground’, says a line in Chris Rea’s ‘Driving Home for Christmas’. It’s the ‘most wonderful day of the year,’ says another. The Great Annual Get-Together is a wonderful thing: being with friends and family strengthens our sense of belonging and our worth.
But this year, sadly, double the number of people as normal are expecting to spend Christmas alone. A solitary Christmas is more likely among those age 65 and over, with as many as 1.7 million people saying they expect to be alone on Christmas Day, according to a survey by The Observer. If this includes you, there are things you can do to make it a blessing.
First of all, put it into perspective. Realise that millions of others are doing the same. It’s the way circumstances have unfolded this year. See it as a special time when you can be good to yourself – give yourself a special treat.
Put the lights up and make sure you are cosy and warm. Making sure the room is bright and cheerful, and that you are warm even if it means bot water bottles and wrapping up in layers.
Use the technology! Telephone your loved ones, make the most of the technology. If you have a smartphone you can use different apps on it to ‘face -time’, that is see them in the moment. WhatsApp is easy to use and you can even make calls abroad free of charge. On a Tablet or I-Pad or computer you can talk over Skype or Zoom. Families regularly keep in touch this way.
Volunteer with a local charity. All over the country volunteers will be helping others on Christmas day. Some will be cooking and serving Christmas dinners. Find out what is happening in your area, and if you are able, volunteer. You don’t have to commit the whole day, and you will find company and a rich reward!
Check with your church pastoral team if anything is happening that you would like to be part of. For example, has your church arranged to telephone people it knows will be spending Christmas day alone? A few years ago a 94-year-old lady whose husband had died earlier that year spent much of the day playing over and over again her answerphone message, just to be able to hear a human voice.
Use your telephone! Call friends and family. And Make a note of Help Lines you can call to have a chat with a real human voice, if you are short of friends or relatives you can call. Premier’s Helpline telephone is 0300 111 0101. Esther Rantzen’s Silver Line.is 0800 4 70 80 90. There may be local organisations with Christmas Day helplines, too.
Write a list of things to give thanks for during the past year. Research shows that feelings of gratitude have a physical as well as an emotional effect. Put simply – being gratitude makes you feel good!
Enjoy the church service! The Covid lockdown has seen the emergence of hundreds of online services, and if you can’t get to your church or it is not open, there will be a host of church services on-line to choose from. There will be services on radio and TV also.
Have a special Christmas meal. If you don’t want to cook, you can buy a Christmas meal from a supermarket or perhaps from a restaurant a couple of days earlier. Arrange a cheerful table setting.
Go for a walk, weather permitting. A brisk walk in the fresh air is good for your brain, your body, and your soul! Be attentive to the beauty of His creation, all around you.
Make space to worship. For many, Christmas Day would not be complete without Christmas Carols from King’s College, Cambridge. And there will be services and worship music all day. If you have an Alexa, ask it to play Christmas music and worship services.
Listen to the Queen’s Speech! HRH Queen Elizabeth includes in her Christmas day talks uplifting messages of hope, and places Christmas Day within its faith context
This pandemic will pass, and life will return to normal. Christmas 2021 will probably be the best for years, as we make up for 2020. But in the meantime, let’s enjoy what we have!