I think I managed only a couple of my monthly articles without talking about Covid-19. Sadly, it is very much back and giving us all real concerns and worries. There is already talk about what Christmas may be like with the restrictions of the rule of six or no households able to mix with one another. There may be travel restrictions and no overnight stays. It is hard to forsee what might be possible. What seems likely is that the way we have observed and celebrated Christmas in past years will be very different this year. For some people they want to carry on regardless, for others they are looking to find a new way of making Christmas special and sadly for others they are questioning whether it is worth the effort. You can see how people view the same event from very different perspectives. Taking one Christmas tradition, the turkey, will there be large ones? (will you be fined for ordering for more than six?), will people be able to buy smaller ones? Or do you break with tradition and try something different? I think it is important to remember the farmers for whom Christmas is an important time for their livelihoods. They cannot easily change the size of the turkeys at the last minute, we should stand by them as they work so hard to support us.

I was reminded that how we look at things can change our perspective. If we look at this coming Christmas as a disaster just waiting to happen, it more than likely that is what we will get. However, if we change our perspective and see Christmas as an oasis in these difficult times. We can look to make the most of the opportunity to have time with those we love within these difficult days, we can look to start new traditions and even ask people what they would like to have or do, rather than tread the well worn paths of Christmas past.

It is always a good idea to reflect on what happened at the beginning. We know that Mary and Joseph travelled to Joseph’s home town and there was no room for them to stay. After a long journey, they would have been tired and desperate for a bed for the night. It is through the kindness of a stranger, the innkeeper, they got shelter for the night. For many sleeping in a stable would hardly seem a kindness, yet Mary and Joseph gratefully received the kind offer of a place to stay. We know the baby is an unexpected arrival in the most unlikely of circumstances. It matters not where or when the birth occurred, it is eclipsed by the great joy and hope. We see this clearly in the celestial song of the angels that the shepherds witness on the hillside. They rush to see for themselves and are not disappointed but return home praising and glorifying God.

It is not how we find a situation that defines us, it is what we do with it that counts. Make happiness and share joy and Christmas will be special.

Rev. Martin Wood. The Rectory, Church Lane, Cheriton Bishop EX6 6HY 01647 24119 (Tuesday to Sunday) revwood163@gmail.com