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December 23, 2017

Home is where the heart is when it comes to Christmas

They say it is the most magical time of the year, a season of wonder, joy and goodwill. And yet, what is left of Christmas when the commercial wheel stops spinning? What is left of this great feast after all the hustle and bustle, the frantic buying and selling? You know what I mean: the relentless queues, traffic chaos, the stress, anxiety and exhaustion. The shopping trolleys bulging with too much food, the panicky pursuit of presents that cost too much, and the niggling worry that you may have forgotten something. And then, when the big day arrives, you are too agitated and exhausted to enjoy it. It is certainly true that Christmas brings its own unique levels of anxiety. But this belies the fact that, beyond the commercial frenzy, Christmas still retains its capacity to bind people like no other event in the long calendar year. It still manages to draw us back to the homeland of the heart. The pressure and the panic will continue until last light on Christmas eve. Even then, the domestic preparations will still be in full swing. But this will be a different class of pressure: it will be work that delivers its own joyful reward. Night will fall, and the bells will toll. The shutters will come down on the commercial world and, for a brief time, we will all turn inwards. The Christmas lights that defy the winter gloom will guide us home. No matter how detached we have become from hearth and home, we all long to return – if only for a few days. Christmas gives us our reason to revisit those times and places from which our fondest memories were formed. It draws us back to family, friends and fireside. Our stressed-out society is characterised by constant commuting in the fast lane. We rush here, there and everywhere with ‘no direction home’. We are neither bound nor rooted to anything for too long. In returning home on Christmas eve, we experience what it means to belong…Read More