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December 2014 - January 2015

posted 21 Mar 2015, 02:39 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne

'Christmas is a-coming and the goose is getting fat' – so goes the old song. Well, Christmas is rapidly approaching as I write this letter, and my diary is filling up fast. I have to admit to a slight panic as I look at all the events listed in it!

Advent is a busy time for most of us. It's a time when the ordinary seems to be ignored amongst all the business. Advent and Christmas are perhaps the most commercialised time in the whole of the church year. I do love this time of year, but I struggle with it as well. The question is, how amongst all the shopping and parties and twinkly lights, do we not only hold on to the seasons, but share them with our families and friends? Here are some suggestions.

I have a count-down Advent candle in my home, each day with a different name of Jesus on. I light it each day and try to spend that slot being calm and quiet with God. My closest friend has one in her home and uses it a meal-times, to remind her and the family that the focus of the time should be on God. I also have books that I read specifically during Advent. There are hundreds of them out there, but two particular favourites are the Advent Calendar by Steven Croft and The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. They provide interesting alternatives to the well-know story.

When you think about Christmas day, think of those you know who could do with a helping hand. Christmas can be both emotionally and financially a difficult time. There may be a neighbour who is alone, or a young family who could do with some extra support. For a couple of years, one of my Christmas presents to a friend of mine was not an expensive gift, but taking her three children off for a couple of hours so she could wrap the presents. Not a big thing for me to do – but much appreciated by her and her husband.

Often the days after Christmas are a bit of a let-down. But they can be celebrated as well. There are various traditions that can be revived, such as going for a ride on St Stephen's Day (Boxing Day), drinking spiced wine on St John's Day (27th December), eating porridge on Holy Innocents (28th December), and eating doughnuts on St Sylvester's Day (31st December).

Take time at the New Year to rededicate yourself and your family to God, and look forward into the New Year with hope and expectation. God has wonderful plans for us, as individuals and as a church.

I look forward to celebrating Christmas and New Year with you. May God be with you all at this time.

With every blessing, Vittoria
Rev’d Vittoria Hancock