The Australian poet Michael Leunig quotes an old saying at the start of his book ‘A Common Prayer’:
‘Love is like bread, it has to be made fresh every day.’
Another Christmas Day has come and gone, and with it all the hype and the food and the drink and the present opening. It’s easy to feel a sense of anti-climax and to ask, ‘Is that it?’ There may even have been some disappointment that Christmas wasn’t quite what it ‘should‘ have been like. And at a time associated with family gatherings, more people than ever will have been alone on December 25th. We find ourselves as well at the darkest time of the year, and with January still to get through, and without the bright Christmas lights to give a little cheer on cold, damp and grey mornings. What, we may ask, has happened to the Christmas message? Is it even clear what the Christmas message is?
We have two special family traditions on Christmas Eve. The first is ‘find the special offer turkey’! Yim Soon takes a great pride in getting her festive bird at the lowest possible price. This Christmas, and thanks to the scouting work of two of our children, we got an M & S turkey crown that started at £50, went down first to £30 and finished up at £18. Very nice it was too, also in the Boxing Day curry, which I had to make this year since we were unable to make our customary trip to Coventry and enjoy one of my brother-in-law Chris’ legendary curries.
Our second Christmas Eve tradition is watching ‘Love Actually’. Besides being highly amusing, the film has a profound message, which is that amidst all the awfulness in the lives of the characters, including bereavement, marital infidelity and mental illness, love can be found in the most unexpected of places. I’m always touched by the opening sequence of people greeting one another at the airport and by the words spoken by Hugh Grant: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” I too have a sneaky feeling, that sometimes it’s right under our noses but we don’t notice it because we’re perhaps too busy looking for it somewhere else, in some other situation, with some other people.
Love born again, in a stable in Bethlehem, witnessed by just a few, rather unusual characters. Not at all how those expecting the coming of a great king or messiah would have expected it.
And the final word goes to Michael Leunig:
Love is born
With a dark and troubled face
When hope is dead
And in the most unlikely place
Love is born
Love is always born