How to ruin Christmas
If I wanted to ruin Christmas, I would try and make it as implausible as possible. I would associate it with a fat man dressed in red pulled along on a sleigh by flying reindeer. Then perhaps people would forget about the birth in Bethlehem of a baby whose life and death has had a deeper impact on the world than anyone else who has ever lived.
If I wanted to ruin Christmas, I would try and make it as busy as possible. I would pile on the pressure for families to spend more than they could afford. I would fill it with that feeling of desperation as presents remain unwrapped, cards unsent, and ensure there is no room for the turkey in the fridge. Then perhaps there would be no time for families to spend with those they love, no space for reflection and no opportunity to remember those dearest to us.
If I wanted to ruin Christmas, I would try and make it as escapist as possible. I would fill the television schedules with unmissable specials, and the drinks cupboard with Tia Maria. I would say that Christmas is all about children. I would wrap people up in cosy sentimentality. This would prevent them from dropping in on that lonely neighbour or recalling Jesus starting life as a refugee and ending it on a cross.
If I wanted to ruin Christmas, I would make it as complicated as possible, a logistical nightmare. I would fill it with demanding children, awkward in-laws, burnt mince pies and faulty gifts. I would get people queuing for Boxing Day sales before they have digested their turkey. This should remove all traces of the simple truth told by the angels to the shepherds that quotes “to you is born this day in the City of David a saviour who is Christ the Lord”.
If I wanted to ruin Christmas, I would dread a time when families laughed together, friends attended midnight services, strangers wished each other a Merry Christmas and people wondered afresh at the humility of a God who stooped to enter our humanity to offer new life and hope in a troubled world.
Of course, if I wanted to ruin Christmas, the editor would not have asked me to write this.