It’s odd being all grown up at University in the run up to Christmas. I think last year I was too overwhelmed by independence to really notice my distinct lack of enthusiasm for all things related to Christmas. (Also it was the first time I’d ever experienced a winter in York and all the snow was very distracting). Recently I’ve been carol singing with the University of York’s Cassoc for charity and it’s been an enjoyable experience as ever, however I’m more likely to have fairytale of New York in my head at the minute rather than we wish you a merry Christmas. Christmas has been advertised for months now (It feels like as soon as Easter ends, Christmas starts) – I’ve never been so cynical about the commercialisation of what is supposedly a Christian celebration.
Although, one thing very positive has struck me recently. In a period where most people’s real income is falling more and more, people seem more generous than ever before. You only have to look at the results of Children in Need to see that we are not quite as selfish as people like to make out. Busking with Cassoc has shown how even after spending a day spending money on gifts for their friends and family, people are still very willing to give that little bit more to someone else.
As for my fundraising to Rio, this generosity has been very noticeable. On the 25th of November (Youth Sunday), the parish of St George’s was kind enough to let me hold a cake sale to raise money for my trip. Not only did I raise nearly £400 (this includes a very generous donation from the parish), I actually came home with enough cake to feed my house for a week as the parishioners not only bought cakes they made some for me as well. (It felt quite Biblical with parallels to the feeding of the 5000). I am incredibly grateful to the people of St George’s for making me feel so welcome and being so generous with their hard-earned money.
As for the real meaning of Advent, this time isn’t about the snow, the presents, the mulled wine etc, now is a time for reflection on what Christmas actually means. It’s a time to take a step back from the rush of the “real” world and appreciate what’s really important in life. This explains my feelings on the matter quite well – (stay with it till the end – it’s not all that cheesy).