by Sally Scott, Manager, Perth WA
Christmas is a tradition for many. On the Google search engine it says that some 2 billion people celebrate Christmas worldwide. So I asked myself, what is it that people believe they are celebrating? We have public holidays for it, concerts, huge shopping sales around this time of year, businesses shut down to give their employees time off, families plan holidays and get-togethers, there is usually large amounts of food prepared and eaten, alcohol is consumed, houses are decorated with coloured lights and ornaments, some make and decorate gingerbread houses, and for some it is the time of the year (the only time of the year) they visit a church or participate in religious services or ceremonies.
Looking at the Wikipedia definition of Christmas, I am told that it is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on the 25th December by millions of people around the world. Now I do not claim to be an expert on the Bible, but is Christmas mentioned anywhere in the Bible? There is mention of Jesus’ birth, but I couldn’t find any record in the Bible referring to anyone observing Christmas.
I have considered the customs associated with Christmas, and there are many, as countries and families tend to develop their own traditions. Wikipedia, as cited above, has a clear definition of the meaning of Christmas. So what do decorated evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe, a jolly plump man in a fur-lined red suit, sleighs and flying reindeer have to do with the birth of Jesus or the meaning of Christmas?
Let me share my experience of this time of year based on where I work, live and my family and friends.
Within my work environment people seem to be very busy and getting very tired. There is a perceived belief that time is running out – the year is ending and yet there is much to complete. There is an added pressure to all of this because our social calendars get busier and there is little time for rest or relaxation. We eat more, we drink more, or more often, and we get less sleep because we are out celebrating. In the industry I work in it is a busy time of year. Domestic violence increases, maybe because alcohol consumption increases, there are more clients with suicidal tendencies or ideations, homelessness becomes more of an issue as services shut down to celebrate Christmas, providing a festive meal for a family is a burden not a joy, giving gifts to children brings pressure and strain rather than merriment and laughter.
I work with clients who are beaten and abused this time of year or have past trauma triggered. The couple of days before Christmas our service was dealing with a family whose daughter had been murdered; putting in safety plans for the public holidays with clients who were suicidal; asking the state child protection unit to follow-up with a family as we had safety concerns for a young child and an unborn child; and supporting a woman to undergo surgery because she had been slashed up by her ex-partner, who had breached his restraining order (or similar) and taken to her with a machete.
To go from a day like that to the supermarket crowds on Christmas Eve was a little surreal. Watching people bumping into each other as they rushed to get their grocery shopping completed; feeling people’s frustrations because in their mind the shopping queues were far too long; seeing people being rude and disrespectful to the person at the check-out, simply because they were trying to connect to customers, be joyful and have a conversation; and seeing people getting angry and frustrated in the parking lots and on the roads, presumably because someone was in the way or slowing them down.
On arriving home, I went for a walk. During this walk I got to look back over the last couple of days. I could feel the craziness of the world outside, compared to the stillness and love that I felt within… this craziness was definitely magnified at Christmas.
So what does Christmas mean for me? It is about staying with myself and allowing myself to see and feel the beauty, grace, joy, harmony and love within the world and within people, rather than getting caught up in the craziness of life and other people’s experiences and realities. I do not rush around and see people or go too crazy with the Christmas shopping. I do connect with family, friends and colleagues as I would at any other time of the year.
Christmas morning I got up early and sat with myself and felt how still, supportive, loving and nurturing the day was. I had a choice to feel this for the entire day, to take this feeling with me as I spent time with family and friends. I spent time with my family, lovingly cooking food to share with others. I sat with my extended family for most of the day as kids played and adults talked; it was joyful and loving.
Thanks to the teachings of Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon, I can connect more to that than the ‘in my face’ craziness that I see every day. It is not about being caught up in this hectic and stressful time of year, buying presents and rushing around catching up with people: for me it is not about celebrating the birth of Jesus, either. It is about slowing down, maybe even stopping, to remember that Jesus lived a life serving people, supporting people and loving people, and he did this regardless of who they were. It is a time to remember that we are all special and that we can make choices to be with ourselves. Jesus was not special – remarkable in how he lived his life, perhaps – but not special.
Just as Serge is not special, but very amazing because he too lives a life that is committed and dedicated to people. He has questions, and he poses them to us for consideration. They are questions that are simple and yet allow us to reflect on the choices we are making in our lives, which ultimately lead to what we are creating for ourselves and others. Questions that just may get more of us to stop and look at how we are being with each other. Questions that one day will have more of us choosing a different way to live with each other, so that there is more love, glory, joy and harmony in the world rather than the stress, trauma and chaos of the kind that was so evident around me leading up to this Christmas.