Its the first Sunday of Advent this week! Woe is me........or something like that. Its a season meant to be taken seriously to prepare us for the coming of the long awaited Christ child. And yet it is so hard to do with all the Christmas joy already in the shops and on the television.
We don't have flowers in the church during Advent and its a season for reflection . I have found that we all treat it differently.
A few years ago when entertaining another vicar I made the mistake of offering her her usual tipple....a gin and tonic. It was refused with great charm because she had given up alcohol for Advent.
In school the Christmas rush is on to get the nativity play up and running.....the excitement in the air is palpable.... charged with the delight that the coming of the Christ child will bring.
For ten years in Rochdale I taught children with no English to speak and write it. Every Christmas we had the same problem.
"Does Father Christmas only come to visit white children? "
That was a hard one so we tried to bring Christmas into school on a secular basis of course.
The year we did the story of Goldilocks as a pantomime has stayed with me.
A very brown boy....girls were not allowed to take part then , wearing a blonde wig, was standing and looking at the audience saying
"Whose been eating my porridge?' This is a picture that comes back every Christmas without fail.
It was in the days before the PC brigade had made everyone conscious of language and symbols...having Christmas plays and songs were fully accepted by all the Muslim children in school with great delight. They joined in too.
One year I got lots of cards including one addressed like this.....
"Happy Christmas dear Grandmother"
I was about 34 at the time!
The lead up to Christmas according to the church year should be treated with respect and reflection but its very hard to do when mince pies are already being cooked, presents being hidden, and the mad dash to the shops has started.....listen.....
Bells, swooshing reindeer, Santa Claus...they are on their way!