At the risk of starting on a controversial note: I don’t think Christmas is a Christian holiday any more. I don’t think, for most of the people who celebrate it, it has anything to do with the birth of Jesus or the conviction that he would go on to become the saviour of all who believe in him. That’s not to say that I think those of you who do celebrate those things at this time of year should stop or that you are in any way incorrect to do so. It’s just that I think the midwinter festival has, as it has for millennia, once again evolved into something that reflects our modern lives, something that can equally be celebrated by all, regardless of your faith or lack thereof.
The cynical among you probably think I mean the celebration of rampant capitalism and the gluttony that our seemingly unbridled commercialism encourages. While that is certainly something to keep in mind (and be mindful of) at this time of year, I prefer to focus on another aspect of the holiday. An aspect which is important to those who still adhere to the baby-in-a-stable meaning behind the holiday but should equally be important to those of us who prefer to think that Jesus was simply a nice guy with a good point.
For me, Christmas is about compassion. It’s about spending time with your family and friends. It’s about taking time to share in their experiences, celebrate their triumphs and commiserate their failures. It’s about being together.
The simple Christmas tradition of swapping gifts is a powerful way to symbolise this connection we have with the people around us. It’s not about getting the latest gadget or game, it’s about knowing the person you’re giving to, showing them that you care and it’s about appreciating that someone cares enough about you to want to show it. There’s an immense inherent power in the simple act of demonstrating to someone that they’re loved and Christmas is a great excuse to take a moment and do that. It’s an idea that I think Jesus would have been on board with but equally, it’s an idea that I think any compassionate individual can see the beauty of.
There’s a lot of heartbreak and disappointment in the world. There are a lot of things to fear and distrust and there are plenty of opportunities to feel disconnected and unhappy in our lives. Christmastime gives us a chance to remind each other that regardless of all the bad in the world, there are people who care about us and places where we can feel that we belong. Christmas gives us a great opportunity to reset our weariness and cynicism, replacing it with hope and renewed vigour for the challenges we might face in the year ahead. It also allows us to show our families and friends that we are there with them, sharing that journey through life and caring for them when they might need it the most.
With that in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity, on behalf of everyone behind the scenes at TSA, to wish you, your families and friends a very merry Christmas from all of us.