An interesting phenomenon happens around two days before Christmas. It may have been happening even before that – the vague feeling that you haven’t got enough…
Not enough food in the house: this rises to ridiculous siege mentality proportions on Christmas Eve – when you dash out to stock up on vegetables enough to feed an army till at least the spring.
Not enough presents: maybe an imaginary uncle will suddenly materialise and need a present, so…more chocolate oranges/handkerchiefs/socks/bottles of sherry…
Not enough time. Everyone goes on about this. There’s not enough hours in the day, not enough time to write cards/post cards/do more shopping/cook in advance/make the beds up/wash all the sheets in time for the next batch of guests etc.
In short, there’s not enough of anything, apparently. But when you stop and think, there’s always the same amount of everything you really need for happiness. In fact, in most middle class homes, there is more than enough of everything – too much of it, in fact.
For instance, I bought a packet of mince pies for our carol concert because we were worried there wouldn’t be enough. There was only one pack left of the little ones with the stars on the top, so I know that after there were more than enough mince pies at the carol concert, they were transported to the community carols event, two days away (in case there weren’t enough mince pies at that event). I spotted them there.
In the end there were (surprise, surprise) too many mince pies at that event too, so at the end, someone asked me if I’d like to take the left over mince pies home (because people are always offering you food when you’re ordained) so I happen to know that I took home the very same packet of mince pies that I had originally bought for the first event.
That’s how I know there’s enough on the mince pie front.
And also the number of hours in the day is enough. It’s always 24, and you need some of those for sleep. And brushing your teeth. And some work, and shopping (a bit). But otherwise, if you’re finding there’s not enough hours in the day, you’re probably doing too much, or have unreasonable expectations of how much time everything will take.
So this year, I’ll be finding happiness in an adequate Christmas, although the word adequate doesn’t really describe the fullness of everything I see around me. Ample is a synonym, and apt. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof”, says Psalm 24 (KJV) and further suggests everything you need is given – that is, it’s adequate, ample, enough.
Because when I look around, and think about my life, there is enough of everything, and there always is. There are enough people, there is enough stuff and there is enough time to do all the things God calls me to do. The givenness of each day, for a start, is a pure gift that you have had nothing to do with providing.
Inevitably at Christmas, there are many for whom enough is not a familiar word. Ironically, it no longer seems enough to focus on those who are nearest and dearest but to look outwards to people who cannot pay you back with return cards, return mulled wine events and return boxes of chocolates.
That’s why Christmas is a mixed blessing – while some celebrate, others will feel social and emotional disparity all the more keenly.
A spiritual principal appears to be that whenever there’s realisation of plenty (in terms of spiritual and material blessings) there always follows a natural spilling out to embrace others. An insight my teenager offered this week was: when you’re little, Christmas is about receiving (presents) but when you get older, it’s more about giving. Profound, I thought.
So here’s to an adequate Christmas.