I imagine that many of us will be spending Christmas Eve with family and possibly friends, eating way too much food and in many cases feeling sick because of it. Gluttony is its own reward, as I always say.
Then either tonight or tomorrow morning we will be giving each other gifts no-one needs that most of us possibly couldn’t afford to buy or perhaps being sneaky about it and cross-giving gifts that in essence mean we each got to buy our own gift but blame it on someone else.
I thought at this time it might be helpful for us to stop. And remember the many, many people across our land who do not get to do such a thing. Those without access to clean water or inside toilets or any kind of exaggerated meal for Christmas. It is a good occasion for us to check our privilege and wonder how we can perhaps do it better next year.
To do this, I thought I would take a well-known positive Christmas poem and give it a bit more of a local spin to perhaps catch a little more of the heart of what might be happening out there somewhere:
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE AN SA CHRISTMAS
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the shack
Not a turkey was carved, as there was such a lack
No stockings were hung by no chimney with care
As there wasn’t much hope that St Nick would come there.
The children were cramped, many stuck in one ‘bed’
While sounds of police sirens danced in their heads
Mama in her nightgown and me with no cap
Were preparing to endure another freezing night’s nap
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter
Away to the ‘window’ I flew like a flash
Gazed out to the night and saw mostly just trash
The moon shone some light on dirty streets below
And I wondered, “Had Santa come here?” Alas, no.
As tonight, for our family, had been much the same
We did not have a feast, carol songs or a game.
We just hoped against hope that we would make it through
As the rich folk drove past thinking, “What’s wrong with you?
If you’d only worked harder. If you’d tried a lot more.
Maybe then you’d be wealthy like us and not poor. “
I returned to my ‘bed’ and curled up like a ball
As I wondered if things would ever change here at all
But something inside me said, “Don’t give up yet.
So much work to be done, but we mustn’t forget:
On the first Christmas night, so much seemed to be bleak
No room in the inn for this baby born meek
So He lay with the animals in a place that was smelly
While a life and a fire raged in that small belly
It began in a place that resembled a shack
And the story continues, there’s no looking back
So we all are invited to pause, be reflective
Take stock of our lives and invite good perspective
This beautiful land has so much potential
But it needs to be shared, that much is essential
The journey ahead is still long and confusing
We must continue to engage in all the places we’re using
We must get our hands dirty, we must put our feet in
And commit to be part of a much needed win
May we yet see a time when the haves and have nots
Sit around the same table with their past hurts forgot
When the gap has been narrowed and there’s balance in sight
Then we truly can say, “And to ALL a good night.”
[Disputed authorship but original poem first published on Dec. 23, 1823 in the Troy Sentinel newspaper in upstate New York.]
That is not the world’s greatest poem. And it probably does a shabby job at communicating a glimpse of what I am hoping to. But the main point is all of us realising that there are many who don’t have it as good as us. And what are we going to do about it? Not just for one day or one moment or event at Christmas. But also as we hit 2016 and in the day to day of how we live our lives and the decisions we make about work and resources and money and who we spend time with.
Have a super great day.