Now, I’m too young to remember this (sorry folks) but in the winter of 1964, a Clergy friend reliably informs me that the Go Go’s released a Christmas novelty record which opened with these words:
“I’m gonna spend my Christmas with a Dalek
and hug it underneath the mistletoe,
and if he’s very nice
I’ll feed him sugar spice,
and hang a Christmas stocking from his big left toe.”
You will be hard pressed to find this particular musical dog’s breakfast in the compilations of Christmas tunes that inevitably fill our shopping centres at this time of year. Even if the Pogues or Slade are not your cup of tea, I can assure you that having listened to the Go Go’s offering, we should be thankful they never made the cut. Small mercies and all that.
Not only does their song display a woeful lack of knowledge about the anatomy of a Dalek, it suggests that nothing says Christmas quite like the opportunity to celebrate it with a genetically engineered race of evil machine/being hybrids intent on galaxy-wide domination!
Indeed, over the next few weeks lots of companies will suggest to us in expensively put-together television adverts that nothing quite says Christmas like… well, you fill in the blank. Boxer dogs jumping on a trampoline? Soldiers exchanging chocolate in the 1914-18 war? A snowman fighting through a long and arduous journey to buy a scarf?
I’m sure plenty of us will also utter statements like ‘you can’t have Christmas without…’ and again, you can fill in the blank. A Christmas tree? Mistletoe? Carol singing? Babycham? Chestnuts roasting on the fire? Midnight Communion? The Queen’s Speech? Children in tea-towels and dressing gowns? A walk in the afternoon? Cold meat and pickles on Boxing Day?
Truth is every family, every person has their traditions and things that speak of Christmas to them. But I do hope that part of your tradition is to be in the company of Christian people in a service of worship. You may or may not be Christian yourself, but I promise that you will be welcome nonetheless. This ought to be a time for all people and, on that front, I was encouraged to hear the Muslim Council of Great Britain issue their own statement welcoming Christmas, pointing out that for them Jesus is a prophet too.
But I digress. At its core, I would say that you can’t have Christmas without a story of humble beginnings and unexpected blessings. A story of concern for the outcast, the refugee and stranger. A story about family and adversity. A story that involves the poor (shepherds) and the rich (kings). You can’t have Christmas without a story of peace and good will to all humankind. You can’t have Christmas without the story of God’s love.