Christmas is, for many, the favourite time of the year. It’s when people get together, make merry and celebrate the birth of Christ.
But a few years ago, I was forced to consider how that may not be the case for many others who might feel excluded and alone in this year-end holiday season.
I’ve lived abroad for 8 years, since graduating from a local university. During this time, returning to Singapore for the year-end holidays was always some kind of a reflex. It was a no-brainer, given how I missed the people I grew up with.
Four years ago, for the first time, I wasn’t invited to any parties in Singapore. Instead, by coming back home, I was missing out on the festivities in Hong Kong, where I was based for work.
I was wistful, maybe a little upset at how all my friends have moved on to a new season of their lives, gotten married, had children and embraced their new realities with such vigour – at the expense of our friendship.
But as I wandered along the streets of Tanjong Pagar that Christmas after a family dinner, my thoughts drifted to my other single friends, the elderly, the sick, even the foreigner who’s just moved to Singapore – those who have nobody to celebrate the holiday with.
At the core of Christmas is the rumination of Christ’s incarnation and the depth of God’s love when He presented His son in the form of a baby and not as an adult. It’s usually a season of celebration, of gatherings to rest and reconnect with people.
But in the eagerness to claim this season for ourselves, are we also excluding people around us who might not have families — whether Christian or otherwise — to share this joy with?
Sure, there are the big corporate events that churches and charities organise for the less fortunate during this period, but what about the people around you in your personal circles? Have you thought of including them at your family dinner table on Christmas Eve?
For that disabled uncle who lives alone, the unmarried friend, or a foreigner new to your city, such an act of love and hospitality is inclusionary, outward-looking and not borne out of pity or a messianic impulse.
There are those who are not looking forward to this year-end festive season at all. They might have just lost a loved one to a long fight with cancer, or they may be working through the breakdown of a relationship or a marriage, plagued by acute loneliness.
Maybe they’re facing financial issues, working through debilitating illness – the list goes on. Look around you. Spare a thought for those people. Find ways to spread peace and love.
After all, how do you think Jesus would spend His birthday?