I went to work today. I have a job as a sales assistant in really nice boho-fashion shop, in a major shopping centre.
An hour in I had to go out the back and have a little weep. Because you know what? Christmas shoppers can just be so mean.
The staff car park is full of course, so I had to skulk around until I found a parking spot, along with all the other skulkers. For the privilege of parking my car within a kilometre of my workplace, I’ll pay half of what I earn in one of those lonely, empty hours I spend walking around my place of business, repairing the wanton destruction left behind by the retail vandals (women who like to pull things off racks then shove them back in backwards, upside down, sideways or just drop them on the floor because it’s too haaaaard to hang things back on racks the way you found them), being ignored when I say “Hello! How are you today?” even though I really do want to know, or else icily eyed up and down judgily. That is, if they can be bothered getting off their phones, or acknowledging my presence in the first place.
I hate Christmas. It turns truly lovely people into just complete arseholes.
Christmas is different when you’re a child. When you’re very young, Christmas isn’t about being subject to rudeness from your peers simply because you happen to be an employee in a shop they feel resentful about patronising because of their sense of obligation to spend every last dollar of credit they have to buy useless shit nobody remotely wants or needs. Neither, when you’re a child, is Christmas about sick, sad young men shooting up primary schools, or dear friends dying of cancer, or piles of unpaid bills, or the car which needs registering, or the trip to Queensland you can’t afford this year, or any of that.
Except Christmas is about that, because Christmas is about how much we need help, not just with the bills, and cancer, and our bad moods, but with everything. Jesus came because we need help.
I seem to cry a lot at Christmas. As a mother, I always feel the weight of expectation is on me. It’s like I’m supposed to just make Christmas happen with whatever I happen to have available, whether what I have available to me is a lot, or a little. Like a magician, mothers – and perhaps any adult with responsibility for a child – are seemingly supposed to pull it together for everyone else. But it’s not happening this time – too much of what’s going on in my world is out of my control…..and I can’t help feeling that at Christmas, that’s as it should be. I think Jesus’ birth serves to remind us what matters isn’t how much we really want, but how little we really need. I need to be healed. I need to be calm. I need to be quiet, and needed, and acknowledged, and free. So little, really.
May you have all the healing you need, the quiet you need, the people you need, the acknowledgement you need, and the freedom you need this Christmas.
Shalom. Namaste. Peace.by