Welcome to our clean, tidy and very cold house. After much angst, time on the phone and three visits from our engineer, we still don't have reliable central heating, but we do have an open fire, a working cooker and an immersion heater, so we will be counting our blessings and enjoying each other's company for the next few days.
There'll be food, presents, glitter and music, and the smells of pine and spice and citrus. It will be lovely - we'll eat a lot, watch silly television and forget all our responsibilities for a while. It is good to take a moment to celebrate the joys of being embodied every now and then, and not be put off by the puritans or the social, intellectual or spiritual snobs who would like to tell us it's all a bit naff really, and shouldn't we be more serious, less self-indulgent or in other ways above all that. Well, I guess sometimes you have to. If you are medically overweight or adicted or suddenly realise the cruelty and injustice that goes into the production of whatever your pleasure is, you do have to make a stand sometimes, no matter who calls you a kill-joy. But let's not forget who, and what we are. If you're a Christian, this holiday is about remembering that God is not above the experience of bodily life. We have to remember that people who despise the pleasures of food, comfort and affectionate gestures for themselves can be dangerously callous about the needs and rights of others to enjoy them. And a little honest enjoyment can be the first step in recognising our duty to share.
I know, there are less Christians about these days. many of the people celebrating the holiday week ground their happiness in other traditions, other rituals, and many don't have a religious reason to celebrate at all. But I hope you are all having a happy holiday, without guilt or or grumpiness. I hope you are warm, healthy and with people you love, and that the food is good and the presents just what you wanted. If you are ill or grieving or anxious, I hope there is someone who remebers youand shows you they care. And I wish you all light and love and hope for the new Year.