It was one frosty December day, many years ago now but I still remember her very well
I'm going to call this woman Jane ( not her real name)..
How she had wanted, indeed longed, to keep up appearances for the sake of the children and their children and up to this point she was doing well,but coming into a quiet building from a busy street and talking to a complete stranger meant her deep grief found expression in her many tears
Maybe you're dreaming of a White Christmas looking forward hugely to what we call the festive season and having yourself what Bing Crosby describes as a very merry Christmas.
And I do hope your Christmas is filled with good things.. but there is another kind of Christmas - not white - but blue.
It is the kind of Christmas I remember the year my dad died
It is the kind of Christmas the bereft family’s of those children and adults killed in Newtown Connecticut will be experiencing this and every year for there is something especially difficult about tragedy at Christmas
That was the kind of Christmas Jane was having all those years ago ,and perhaps you too have been bereaved –we often feel the pain most acutely at Christmas don’t we?
Or perhaps you have lost your job and you're wondering how you'll pay back that loan or clear that credit card bill or you're worried about your health or your children or your parents or your marriage.
For many of us Christmas simply cannot bear the weight of expectation of happiness we place upon it
Now this is never easy but if you're dreading Christmas there are things that may help to dispel the darkness: You can find somebody to talk to ,whether it's a friend or perhaps a great charity like the Samaritans or Relate who are there to help
Or if memories of Christmas past are just too painful is it possible perhaps to change your routine and go and help out at a church or charity or at a Christmas lunch, or even go for a walk in the country
These are not miracle cures but they can sometimes help get your pain into perspective
here was a lot of grief and uncertainty around that first Christmas - a day that God became a vulnerable baby in Lucados words "he who sustained the world became dependant on the nourishment of a young girl”
And as the baby grew into a man he was to experience suffering and rejection bereavement and pain and even death He understands our suffering he cares for us. The Light came into a dark world that first Christmas and the darkness could never destroy it.
It would be unrealistic to expect everyone to have a Happy Christmas but my hope is we can in the depths of our hearts (even if they are troubled hearts) have a peaceful one.. and I wish a peaceful Christmas for you.