“Tuesday will be the start of Advent ” said our daughter to Sam, aged four, as we were enjoying a leisurely brunch the other day. “You can start opening your Advent Calendar”.
There were gasps of excitement from Sam and Harry his younger brother.
“What is Advent?” I asked Sam. “It means it’s only so many days until Father Christmas comes” he replied without a moments hesitation. There was a bit of an embarrassed shuffling from the adults. “Yes” I said “but Christmas is also about the birth of baby Jesus. Have you been hearing about that at school?” Sam goes to a Church of England school but, in spite of preparing a Nativity play for parents next week, it seems the Christmas story has yet to be told there.
We live in a Western secular society where, unless we believe and share absolutes of faith that defines the Creative in a specific and concrete way, such as Christ as God, as part of a Trinity, as the one God in Allah or Jehovah for example, we are grasping at clouds in our attempts to explain to children where we are coming from. A belief in a Universal Creator that encompasses all these faiths and none, that dwells in the heart of each of us and is there for the asking through all our joys, trials and tribulations, doesn’t sit comfortably in any religious book.
Yet children need the absolute. They drink up the colourful stories and myths whether they are Bible stories, fairy tales or stories of Batman and Robin.
The story of Christmas is a beautiful one. Who cannot be moved by the arrival of a new baby, let alone one whose birth is accompanied by a brilliant guiding star, surrounded by ox and ass, lying on a bed of sweet smelling straw and who is brought presents of fluffy lambs by local shepherds and gifts of treasure by kings on camels – to say nothing of the chorus of angels.
I, for one, will be searching today for a colourful pop up book of the Christmas story for our grandchildren. We, as much as they, need to know there is still magic in the world.
Copyright 2015 Carole Lacy