I love to hear about how other people celebrate the Christmas season.
When I was young, I imagined everybody did the same things our family did - and later, on learning of different traditions and ways of "doing Christmas" I was both fascinated and ever so slightly horrified - "You open your presents at midnight?!" " You don't open your presents until after dinner?!" "You go out to a restaurant for lunch?!" "You don't eat turkey?!" I went home to my "normal" family Christmas, safe and secure in its familiarity.
As I grew older and took on the Mrs Christmas role myself, I enjoyed keeping many of my childhood traditions, and passing them on to my own children, as well as instituting new ones.
This year is very different for us. There will only be three of us at home this Christmas. It will be strange - a quiet(ish) house - no mountains of torn wrapping paper, no-one hogging the tub as they try out their new bubblebath, no frantic basting of a huge turkey, no mad crescendo of getting everything to the table on time, no slightly tipsy game of trivial pursuit. I don't quite know how I will feel on the day - more relaxed, probably! But it is more than just one day - it is the gradual build up towards Christmas that I love - little things appearing here and there - decorations slowly being put in place, a growing pile of cards, exotic looking tins and packets appearing in the cupboard - bit by bit, Christmas creeps in - to our home and to our heart.
Nowadays, of course, I recognise that Christmas is held in many ways - all equally as valid as ours, and, of course many others celebrate different festivals at this time of year too. I notice, mind you that there seem to be a great many opinions out there, which are very disparaging of others' celebrations, while proclaiming their own to be perfect. We are all here, in the dark, searching in our own way, for the Light. We can enjoy the fellowship, the feasting and the fun of as we honour our own traditions - and we should. But for me, the truth can be found on the road to that Bethlehem stable and in the empty tomb beyond.