"Peace on earth and goodwill to all men" sang the angels that first Christmas.
What would they have thought if they could have foreseen our typically frenetic approach to the event? Would even an angel keep its composure in our 21st century Christmas?
When faced with writing hundreds of Christmas cards to long-abandoned friends, baking dozens of mince pies, and frantically checking the e-mail updates on those elusive on-line orders, only to spend the day itself cooking and clearing up after people we wouldn't normally choose to spend a day with?!
Sometimes it seems impossible that we could find peace and joy in the heart of all the bustle and preparation.
And yet there are those precious moments hidden away amongst the busyness. The not-so-muffled-whispers of excited children early on Christmas morning. The wide eyes of a loved one opening a present they'd longed for but not expected to get. The sudden, awkward hug of that annoying family member that did appreciate spending the day with you after all.
So this year I am making a mental catalogue of the things that are special to me, in an attempt to keep my heart warm and my head a little clearer. I am sifting through my memories, and pulling out and admiring those moments I treasure: my son trying to decide whether he was most excited about his presents or our traditional Christmas Eve holly hunt; singing carols together by the warming shimmer of candlelight; waking up to my husband on Christmas Day and knowing that we still love being together; seeing the glow on my children's faces when they discover their magically-filled stockings (even though one of them isn't sure he believes in Santa anymore). The amazing truth that we have a God who loves us so much that he would consider taking on the limitations of a baby, to be born in a smelly cowshed, in occupied territory.
It doesn't make the preparations any less; but it makes me smile whilst I work through them - both in gratitude for moments passed, and in anticipation of the new treasures that may be my presents this year.
A Happy Christmas to All. See you in 2011!