I had planned a very different blog post, however following Saturday's announcement of Hertfordshire and much of the east and south east of England moving into a new fourth tier and the huge implications this has on the Christmas many of us planned, I thought I would share some thoughts on how we can make the best of the situation we find ourselves in.
The darkest hour is just before the dawn
It may feel hopeless following the perceived cancelling of Christmas, but Christmas is about hope in the darkness, it is about sharing love and hope, about being people of peace and reconciliation in the midst of chaos and division. For me as a Christian, Christmas is especially poignant in light of the pandemic as it forces me to look beyond ‘me’ and ask myself, how can I show love and kindness that will make a difference? How can I share the hope my faith gives me to others through my actions, words and choices?
Embrace the awkward and reach out.
Perhaps look at your social media and the friends you’re connected with. If you’re anything like me you can often view updates from friends but never comment on or message them. Why not take the time to message 5 friends and ask how they’re doing, see if are they able to see anyone at Christmas and, if you feel able, offer some support that is in line with the restrictions you are under. It can feel awkward reaching out but believe me, it can make a huge positive difference to someone and give a glimpse of hope.
- Why not call 5 people in your contact list
- Write a letter to 3 family members or friends
- Donate some food or presents to a local charity
Find joy and gratitude
Following saturday’s announcement I’m not ashamed to say I cried. I cried as the prospect of seeing some of my family disappeared, I cried when I called my dad to let him know that we will not be able to see each other, I cried with my wife as we thought about the fallout of life in tier 4! But then we thought about what we can be grateful for - for us none of our family will be alone this Christmas, we are healthy and well and our two children are still extremely excited for Christmas! As we focused on this we felt a little joy and peace and as I write this I am more hopeful. This year may be different but we are resilient and capable as people, we look ahead to enjoying a much delayed Christmas with our families (I’m always keen to extend the joy of Christmas and this gives me an opportunity to do just that!).
- Keep a gratitude diary over the coming weeks
- Finish each day asking yourself ‘what gave me joy today?’
- Look for moments and opportunities to give joy to others
Don’t be shy
If you’re reading this and feeling hopeless, isolated or overwhelmed, exhausted and downhearted by it all, please, please, please don’t be shy and struggle alone. I know that it can be extremely difficult to reach out and ask for support and help, but I ask you to do just that. A line from a classic carol says ‘And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace’. There is no better time to give and receive love from one another, so if you feel you need that care from others, be brave, be bold and be willing to say.
- Contact a friend and let them know how you’re feeling
- Don’t underestimate the impact all this can have on you.
- Remember you are not alone in this - reach out
This Christmas will be different, but I pray that the centre of the Christmas story of God giving hope to the world shines brighter this year than it has before, may you have peace, joy and love this Christmas no matter what the circumstances.
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