Awareness Foundation

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

By St.John Wright, Operations Director

My childhood Christmases remain easily the most magical times of my life. The childish sense of wonder at the glory of the Christmas tree, the hilarity when it then toppled over and fell on my mother while she was knitting, the excitement around the stack of amazing presents hidden somewhere that would be waiting for me on Christmas morning, and the promise of days spent just with my parents, two of my grandparents and a collection of pets, stay with me several decades later. There was also room for the birth of Jesus, especially as British TV in the 60s and 70s would be packed with Christmas programmes, both spiritual and secular.

In the UK today, Christmas has lost the spiritual and become almost entirely secular. It is almost impossible to escape from the modern, Western notion that Christmas is “all about family”. This is the cause for celebration: relatives. Department stores, supermarkets and TV channels, stuck in a secular world of not mentioning religion “in case it offends someone”, all push this message heavily. It is also a very profitable message: if Christmas is all about family, then you’d better make sure you have bought lots of presents for every single relative.

What about in the Middle East, the birthplace of the three Abrahamic faiths and also the birthplace of Christmas? There, the gleaming, priceless treasure of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ, the joy of which you share with your family and friends. Rather than celebrating the family, we should be celebrating the birth of Christ with our family, celebrating our spiritual link with God Himself, the one who loved us so much that through Jesus He fully took our nature and lived as we lived, and as we live today.

I hope and pray that in the West we can return to the true treasure of Christmas, which is the miracle of God becoming one of us, a far greater glory and a more meaningful cause for celebration than the UK’s current secular miracle of “Mum and Dad, Uncle Alfred, Granny and Cousin Joe turning up for dinner and an argument.” Rather than feigning joy over socks, a kitchen gadget that will live forever in a drawer next to some string and every instruction manual you’ve ever owned, and a celebrity biography by someone you’ve never heard of, let’s experience genuine joy in the incarnation and in the wider human family in all its forms.

A last point: many people have no family. Many others have family but are estranged for any of a million reasons. I hope that they all have friends and neighbours to spend time with over the so-called “festive season”. But some will be totally alone over Christmas; they will see no-one. Judging by Western secular values, they will have no Christmas because they are not in the exclusive family group.

But in the eyes of God, who is the one member of our family who will never criticise our cooking, present choice, or wallpaper, we have everything in the world to celebrate, even if it’s just Him and us.

Watch Christmas greetings from staff and volunteers of the Awareness Foundation here!