Christmas 2021

This will be our third Christmas in London. I’m starting to get used to the dark afternoons and the winter chill. I’ve been dressing in big jumpers and scarves — cosy and warm.

It was just me and my son for our first London Christmas as my husband had to work. The day was bright and cold. I remember trying to cook up a Christmas feast for just the two of us. There were plenty of leftovers.

The second was cancelled as we went into a hard lockdown. But I think we still managed to go see the Christmas lights in the city as a family.

This year we braved the cold again in the lead up to Christmas to see the lights on and near Regent Street.

Unfortunately, the Omicron variant is rising here and there is talk of another lockdown coming in January.

For the moment we’re trying to enjoy the freedom we have without falling ill. I think we’ve all been pinged by the NHS Track and Trace App at least once stating we’ve come into contact with someone who had COVID.

This time my husband and I are triple jabbed with the vaccine. Our son has also been vaccinated. And we’re all hoping these injections will keep the sickness away.

We’ve booked Christmas lunch at our local pub again. I am looking forward to it after being so disappointed last year. All going well, we should still be able to enjoy our first English pub Christmas meal tomorrow.

In the lead up to Christmas, we visited the now infamous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. The poor tree looked like it had a rough time getting to London. But I don’t think it warranted all that derision on social media.

Besides, it’s the thought that counts. For those who don’t know the tradition, every year Norway sends a Christmas tree as a thank you for British support during World War II. This has been going on since 1947.

This year, the tree looked a little worse for wear. But all the criticism, albeit razor sharp and sometimes funny, was a little embarrassing.

Because Christmas is more than Instagram perfect gifts.

I’m sure when God sent His son to earth all those years ago, the baby lying in an animal’s feeding trough hardly seemed like an amazing gift. Yet there he was. And though many didn’t know it then, that little baby was going to save the world.

Forget the lights, the family meals, the tree and the presents. That tiny baby born more than two thousand years ago is the reason for it all.

One day, that baby will grow into a man who will take himself to the cross for our sins. He will defeat sin and death. And he will intercede on behalf of all who believe in him.

It’ll be Christmas Day tomorrow. In many parts of the world, it’s Christmas Day already. It’ll be a time of joy and celebration.

But if the day isn’t perfect, that’s ok too.

For many it will be a time a grief as they mourn people who are no longer with them. For others it can be a time of homesickness as they miss people and places far away. Then there are the fights and family tensions.

But it’s into this broken world God sends a beacon of hope. A testament of His love for us all.

It’s good to know that no matter how sad, lonely, broken we feel at this time, we are seen and loved by the creator of the universe who set stars into motion by His word. That thousands of years ago, He sent His own dearly loved son to die for us, to save us.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21

It’s our third London Christmas. We are missing family and friends back in Australia. But we are also thankful to have made some good friends here.

There’ll be presents under the tree, good food and much cheer for us. And we’re grateful for the many small blessings.

But as we rip away the gift wrapping and all the trappings of Christmas, I hope we also remember to celebrate our ultimate gift — Jesus.

Happy Christmas everyone.

St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance

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