By: FR HAYNES HUBBARD
The only thing we know is that Christmas won’t be like it is in Canada. There, when we go and get the tree, it is always foul weather – freezing cold, slushy snow.
We find a tree, which looks wonderful in the forest, bring it home, and discover that the bit we couldn’t see is completely barren of branches and greenery. So we carefully push that side against the wall and hope no-one notices. The tree always falls over once or twice in the season, crashing down and spreading decorations and chaos all over the room. It is something of an adventure.
Here in Portugal we are not sure. A picnic on the beach (not something we do often in Canada at Christmas)? A walk along the seaside? A drive into the towns to see the lights? All of it is something of a novelty. Something of a mystery. We wonder and as we do, the children, especially Gabriella, get more and more excited. About precisely that: the unknown. We really do not know what we shall do or what it shall look like.
Yet, at the same time, we do know something of what to expect. We know that we shall celebrate it together even though we (like so many of you) shall be missing grandparents and uncles and aunts. We know that we shall feel slightly out of place, but that we have already good friends to share that slight ‘lost-ness’ with.
Above all, we know that Christmas, with its sense of nostalgia and sentimentality, suffused with the truth that goodness and joy has invaded and entered our world, will bring memories and love, which will make up for the strangeness of the surroundings.
So the known will in fact outweigh the unknown, which is exactly what happened that first Christmas. The known outweighed the unknown. What was unknown was the where, what was known was the why.
Goodness wrapped in human form came into our darkness, our lost-ness, to be with us in our loneliness. St John puts it this way: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”.
His name was Jesus Christ, and we celebrate His birth, and His invitation to look for His Goodness wherever we find ourselves, once again this season. You would be most welcome to join us as we do so.
Father Haynes Hubbard can be contacted at [email protected]