As Christmas draws closer, Emilton, Solutions Architect and Religion Workstream Lead for SBG, pens his fond memories of the season and reminds us to be mindful of those who might not be celebrating this year.
Although the nights are darker and winter is in full swing especially these past weeks, there is always a sense of excitement and feel good factor for many people leading up to Christmas. As the song goes it’s the most wonderful time of year. It is a time for tree decorations, street lights, carols, presents, food, fun and festivities. A time to get the Michael Bublé CD out and its most certainly the only time of year you can buy a “ginger bread” latte. But most importantly I would say it is a time for family and friends.
As a child growing up in Sierra Leone, Christmas Day always started with church service, singing beautiful carols and after the service we are then given a small envelope which contain couple of Leones (local currency), for which I used to be so grateful and that would make an awesome Christmas for so many other children.
Some of these aspects of Christmas have become tradition for many of us and that is all brilliant. Another tradition is that of the nativity and most of us will know the story of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. Many of us would have seen our children, nieces or nephews, grandchildren play a role in their school play of the Nativity (which are nowadays becoming more modernized and distant from its Christian heritage). But I believe this story should remain at the heart and center of all the sparkle and red bows. It is the true meaning of Christmas in which God became one of us and dwell among the people. This is what brings joy and hope to so many people worldwide, that someone will be so kind to trade places with us, taking away our anger, shame, bitterness and pains on Himself and giving us freedom, peace, love and joy.
The weeks leading up to Christmas can sometimes seem like a long marathon with all the preparation (unless you are very organized and started your planning boxing day the previous year), and by the time we get to the day itself we’ve more than likely exhausted ourselves. There is also the added pressure and stress to having a “perfect” Christmas which can all result in our mental health taking a hit. For some people this time of year may be difficult for many different reasons, it could be painful memories, a loss, a loved one being taken ill or that they may be alone during this time. Remember not everyone has the perfect family Christmas that we’re told we should have.
We therefore need to be mindful of how this time of year can impact us and other people. We need to take the steps needed to make it as stress free as possible…i.e. taking time out for yourselves, sharing tasks where you can, do not feel pressure to attend every event, budgeting and spending wisely, exercise (this can just be going for a walk during lunch time), spend time with a friend or loved one.
Think of those alone at Christmas and ask yourself could you invite someone over, is there an extra space at your table? It might even be the colleague who sits next to you every day. Let’s make Christmas a day that no one spends alone.
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