by Paulina French

My own home becomes a kind of “kitch” heaven with Christmas lights everywhere, even on our outside walls Santa Claus flies through the night sky. The Christmas lights outside are a plethora of mixed bright lights that eventually hurt your eyes after 25 days! Our Christmas tree, which at least has a colour scheme of red and gold, goes up heavy with decorations, and decorating it with my children reminds me of the loveliness of Christmas for children. Our nativity scene also gets put out, without Jesus in the manger until Christmas Eve.

We as parents can leave it at this. We can leave it at the Christmas stocking fillers and the Christmas wish list. Or we can take the time to talk to our children about why we have all these “kitch” decorations everywhere. Why we drive ourselves crazy and sometimes become monsters as we hunt those shopping isles for the perfect gift!

 These are most of the images that are likely to pop into the head of an average eight year old probably living in quite an affluent area in South Africa.

However, I can’t help but feel a little sad when I hear the song we often hear at this time of year “Do they know it’s Christmas?” by Band Aid. I can’t help but think of all the people who are most vulnerable in our world. The poor, the displaced, refugees and outcasts in our society who we forget at this time.

As we have journeyed through Advent preparing for this very special day have we remembered these people or does remembering them put a damper on our own celebrations? Do we choose to ignore the fact that baby Jesus was the child of refugees too because that makes us too uncomfortable? Should we not rather be using the Christmas story as a way of coming closer to those who are different to us and as a way of reaching out to them with love and empathy? Should we not be using this time of Christmas to give hope to the most vulnerable in our world who have lost all sense of worthiness?

At his General Audience on Wednesday the 7th of December this year Pope Francis said “ Let us allow ourselves then to teach hope, to faithfully  await the coming of our Lord, and whatever desert we might have in our life will become a flowering garden”.

A merry and blessed Christmas to all!