The Immaculate Conception, 9th December 2019
Why are the real things, the important things, so easily mislaid underneath the things that hardly matter at all?(Christmas Days: Jeanette Winterson p.25)
This is Jeanette Winterson concluding a delightful story of the Christ child on the true and, mostly forgotten, meaning of Christmas. A story in which she subverts the general focus on acquiring material presents to exchange for other material presents, by having Father Christmas breaking into houses to steal presents from the rich (that’s from us) in order to free them up (to free us up) from the tyranny of possession. The couple at the centre of the story are encouraged by a tiny child, the Spirit of Christmas, which they found trapped inside a window display, to give up their entire car-load of freshly-bought gifts to Father Christmas and in so doing they re-discover their love for one another.
Love is the true Spirit of Christmas and no amount of physical gifts can supplant this, except for the physical gift of the Christ-child. God’s gift to us for us give to others. Mary is the first person prepared, and I use that word advisedly, to receive this gift and pass it on; to realise, that is, the meaning of this most traditional of stories – tradition at its best. Jeanette says of Mary, but could well as well say it of herself:
The woman was still walking, carrying the future, holding the miracle,
the miracle that births the world again and gives us a second chance.
The miracle of love.