How is it Christmas already? It only feels like yesterday, that we were trying to figure out how many of our family could actually meet for Christmas lunch in 2020!
I felt so sorry for our local pub, where we were planning to go for lunch on Boxing Day, only for them to have to cancel everything. I think we would all agree that 2021 didn’t turn out quite as we would have hoped. I think we all hoped for a return to pre-covid normality. It has been good to have some of our normal habits returning, but it feels like there’s still a fair way to go.
It has been a year of great highs! Wembley and the Grand Final will continue to live long in the memory. That said, I think that one of my real highlights was the return of supporters to the Totally Wicked Stadium. I remember standing in the dugout as the players emerged to warm up. The relative silence, that we had begun to get used to, was broken by the sound of singing and cheers. The hairs on the back of my next stood up and I found myself getting quite emotional. Our game only really makes sense in the presence of fans. Thank you!
Time has most certainly flown by. This has got me thinking about Christmases of years gone by. It’s true to say that I remember some of the great gifts. I remember getting a pool table one year. I had sneaked downstairs at stupid o’clock, before anyone was awake, to make sure that Santa had been. I spotted the pool table and went upstairs to my older brother and told him that Santa had brought him a pool table. I was stunned when I found that it was for me – there wasn’t a pool table on my list!!! Another great gift was a pair of boxing gloves. On Christmas Day, when the extended family came around to celebrate, my cousin knelt in front of the seven-year-old me. “Go on then!”, she said. “Hit me!” I did. She didn’t expect that. Her nose exploded and blood sprayed everywhere! Merry Christmas!
The thing is, when I think back, it isn’t the presents that I remember most clearly. It’s actually the time spent with family and friends. It’s the warm feeling of being with people who we love and who love us. It’s remembering the Christmas Story and the incredible impact that one baby made on the rest of history. My Dad passed away over the summer. This will be the first Christmas that I will experience without either parent being with us. It isn’t their presents that I will miss; it’s their presence!
I recognise that Christmas can be a difficult time for many people. As we are still in the heat of Covid, with it’s challenges and concerns, Christmas feels different again this year. I know that many of us will experience Christmas with loved ones not present, whether that is because of travel restrictions or, worse still, because they are no longer with us. Take time this Christmas to celebrate the impact that those people have had on our lives. Don’t allow them to be absent from your stories – it’s those memories that help us.
As we celebrate this year, take time. Take time to be present with the people that matter to you. Take time to laugh together. Take time to have fun together. Remember that the first Christmas night literally changed the course of time forever! Worry less about the presents and focus on the presence.