There are some things we don’t have to do at Christmas.
We don’t have to exchange laughter for stress; or ‘have thought of everything’.
We don’t have to take responsibility for everyone else’s happiness.
We don’t have to drink more alcohol than our body’s comfortable with.
We don’t have to experience the discomfort of over-eating.
We don’t have to look at our phone. No, really.
We don’t have to punish ourselves for not being as happy as the fictional Christmas adverts.
We don’t have to go to social occasions we don’t feel up to.
We don’t have to lose our voice when big opinions battle it out around us.
We don’t have to believe that money spent equals love.
We don’t have to be ruled by family demands or expectations.
We don’t have to imagine people will be more full of good will this year than they were last year.
We don’t have to pretend we’re coping.
And we can go for a walk if it all gets too much, because we’re allowed to be alone; allowed to reclaim ourselves.
And in the cracks between all the things we do have to do, may kindness, hope and wonder find us.
May we be found by a secret Christmas, known in our hearts, stronger than steel, an arrival at the manger, however and whenever it occurs…
…which is a moment we don’t have to ignore.