To me, Christmas means……hope. I’ve been thinking about this prompt ever since I read it on Saturday evening. Christmas means so many things to me: twinkly lights, love, joy, family, friendship, kindness, companionship, generosity, grace, birth, excitement, but more than anything, I think – and the reason why I love it so, so much – it means hope.
I find, have always found, Christmas full of hope and I think that’s what I love so much about it. Christmas is an opportunity for people to show a better side of themselves, to forgive, to be that little bit nicer, kinder, better. And that’s always given my hope. Hope that the world can be better, that our lives can be better, that we can do that little bit better to make every day as wonderful as Christmas Day (yes, you might say, it wouldn’t be special then – but, imagine if every day we treated people as we treat them around Christmastime – imagine how truly wonderful Christmas would be then! And how much better everyone’s lives would be all round!).
I remember, as a child, reading about the Christmas Truce and being totally confounded by the thought that these soldiers, who were giving their all to the War, stopped shooting at each other for a while on Christmas Day. [I was confounded because the pacifist in me couldn’t – can’t – get my head around how they must have felt when the shooting started again (and who started shooting again first?) and how devastating it must have been for all of those involved: as one soldier, who lived the experience, says, “It was a short peace in a terrible War”]. But, I wonder now, did that short peace perhaps give them hope? Did it allow them to think it would all end at some point? That there was hope that they’d make it out alive (as so many of their friends had not)? That there was hope that mankind, who’d done such evil deeds during the worst War, could overcome, could once again be more human?
I think, also, about the robin, bright red-chested, proud as punch, hopping from one spot to another over the frozen landscape, bringing a flash of colour (hope) to the winter, bobbing around, earnestly seeking food, hoping to find a morsel to keep himself going one more day. I see robins and they are, for me, emblematic of Christmas, emblematic of hope. They make my heart sing. [They also remind me of my Gran and Grandad, who’d be overjoyed when ‘their’ Mr. Robin came to the kitchen windowsill in winter, seeking the little bits of bacon rind my Gran would leave out for them, lovingly cut up and placed on a recently cleared, snow-free, piece of sill].
We all find hope where we can, how we can. In my case, these last few months, hope has replaced fear as my overpowering default emotion. Hope that we will come through this, that we will prevail, that we won’t just survive but will thrive. This hope has allowed me to go on, even on those days when I thought I would not be able to go on. When the panorama seemed so bleak, I couldn’t see a way through. Hope: it’s a powerful, life-enhancing, emotion. The respite of the weary. [I think, now, of all the people who volunteer to make a hot meal for the homeless on Christmas Day and it wells tears up from so deep inside: the hope that must bring to those people, it breaks my heart].
We put our Christmas tree up a few days ago and it stands, now, in our home, as a symbol of hope. A beacon of joy, love, hope in a home that has seen many ills. I see it and my heart sings. Christmas, and Christmas trees, have always held a special place in my heart but now, as I sit reading, in the evening, by the glow of the fairy lights, I’m warmed, my soul is literally warmed by the sense of immense wellness I feel from this glow, this hope that Christmas resonates for me.