I was recently reflecting on the spirit of Christmas over a mulled wine and hugely calorific mince pie.
The spirit of Christmas could be interpreted as a drop of our local amber nectar or any one of a bewildering array of gins now available.
I would venture to suggest that there is a lot more to the spirit of Christmas, though for many alcohol is an enjoyable add on – in moderation of course.
A cogent case could be made for promoting Santa Claus as representing the spirit of Christmas.
After all, he is a most attractive fellow dressed colourfully with his long beard and roly poly figure. He certainly is not in need of a 7000 calorie Christmas dinner. It came as a considerable shock for me at the age of 21 to discover that Santa was a figment of our fertile imagination. In self defence, I must admit to have been increasingly troubled by his weight and the risk of being stuck within the confines of the chimney.
In addition, chimneys were becoming old fashioned and I just could not foresee Santa, not to mention Rudolph and his pals, scaling the walls of our house to enter via the patio door.
Many families keep the custom going of leaving a large dram for Santa and a carrot for Rudolf.
The dram is gone in the morning but Rudolph did not seem to keen on the carrot.
I always had serious health concerns about Santa. No wonder he was rubicund of visage.
I would be too if I polished off a large whisky in every house in Lenzie and beyond.
This is not to forget that he almost certainly had type two diabetes and high blood pressure in addition. None of this mattered one iota once the terrible truth surfaced.
The giving of gifts is admirable and is very much in keeping with the spirit of Christmas. For Christians the nativity is a key focal point for celebration.
There is a resonance here of the spirit of Christmas – homeless family, heavily expectant mother, baby born in humble surroundings – a special baby and gifts delivered by the wise men.
The spirit of Christmas can also be exemplified by the wonderful short story written by the famous American author O Henry.
Della and Jim are a recently married couple living in New York. Christmas is approaching and they are strapped for cash.
Della is keen to buy a new platinum chain for Jim’s watch, which is his pride and joy. In order to pay for this she has to sell her magnificent long hair.
This she does and when Jim arrives home he looks at her in dismay. She hands him the chain and explains that she paid for this by selling her hair.
Jim then produces a magnificent set of jewel studied brushes for Della’s long hair, financed by him selling his watch.
They become worthless gifts in a material sense but powerful symbols of the giving which is what Christmas is all about.
This year 60,000 elderly people in Scotland will be alone on Christmas Day.
There will also be far too many who will be homeless like Jesus, Mary and Joseph and also in need of food banks
Irrespective of our religious beliefs, we can all join in the spirit of Christmas by looking out for those less well off then ourselves and giving them our time, money and goods. They will benefit but so will we and the true spirit of Christmas will emerge.
A Happy Christmas to all.