When I was younger, Christmas was always my favourite time of year. My family aren't Christians so we didn't do church - but we did do Father Christmas, presents, stockings, snowmen and all the trimmings. I loved it. There was just one catch - trying to be good enough for Santa.
"He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake."
That's not a promise; it's a threat. But no matter how hard I tried, goodness was beyond my reach. Half an hour of kindness and I'd be overwhelmed by the urge to do something bad - like punch my little brother or eat all the advent chocolates and blame him.
Since that time, some things have changed and some have stayed the same. My brother's too big to punch - and I left Santa behind along with Barbie's Dream Castle. My heart's still selfish, but I've given up on being "good" - in my own strength at least.
Instead of Santa, I've got a Father who gives, but asks for nothing in return. The kind of God who holds nothing back - not even Himself.
more beautiful than Harrods gift-wrap
more satisfying than the richest Christmas dinner
more comforting than Downton Abbey
more loving than the closest family unit
calmer than Gandalf
kinder than a billion Santas
brighter than Stephen Fry
more reliable than the Queen's speech
sweeter than a clementine
more joyful than a child's first Christmas
more truthful than an in-law's tongue
more welcoming than the warmest hearth.
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.