A Simple Value-centered Christmas By Sophie Baber
The festive season is upon us! The curtains have closed on this year’s fabulous nativity plays and the final notes have been sung in the joyous Christingle and Christmas services, so we can now say…..the holiday has begun! While it is a time of delight and celebration, of family and friends, this time of year can bring with it many stresses and strains. Sadly, from as early as the age of four, children can lose the ability to be enchanted by the sights and sounds of Christmas. Instead, some develop a two-month-long obsession with materialism, while others, like those children supported by Brookham’s chosen charity, The Kings Arms, are so busy caring for family members, that Christmas passes them by uncelebrated.
Many parents find it a challenge to create a simple value-centered Christmas in the midst of all the commercialism and other pressures. However, the task is made much easier when we understand what really matters to children. There is, perhaps, no one better placed than Dr Alastair McAlpine. A palliative paediatrician, originally from South Africa, Dr McAlpine spends his life caring for children who are terminally ill. Last year he set about asking his patients two very simple questions, ‘What have you enjoyed in life?’ and ‘What gave your life meaning?’
First, it is worth noting some of the things the children did not mention:
NONE said they wished they had watched more TV.
NONE said they should have spent more time on electronic devices.
NONE enjoyed hospital.
But what did they value? Dr McAlpine summed up his findings rather succinctly.
With this in mind, I wanted to leave you with a Christmas gift. The gift of… an Icelandic tradition, which I hope you will adopt and one that I believe Dr McAlpine’s patients would absolutely love.
'Jolabokaflod', or the 'Christmas Book Flood' centres around Christmas Eve. On 24th December, Icelanders come together and give each other books. Families then spend the evening curled up in front of the fire, hot chocolate or mulled wine in hand, reading with each other and sharing in the magic of literature and the festive season.
On that note, I wish you all a wonderful 'Jolabokaflod', a joyous Christmas and a fabulous New Year!