I suppose one could say the same thing every year, “This Christmas is going to be different!” and of course it will be. Do I mean it will be better, or worse or I will make an effort to make it better? Or maybe it was perfect  just the way it was.   But, change is  natural. Our families develop, grow and so change happens for a start.  Children grow older and so do the elderly and everyone in between too.  Young people who have finished their education may be planning to leave home, some people get married, some don’t, new babies arrive.  And for some of us too there have been deaths in the family, leaving a gap, an empty chair at the Christmas dinner table, for persons to be remembered.  

It seems to me that the “good old days” have gone, when Advent was both a holiday time as well as having its moments of spirituality.   Living alone, as I do, possibly provides most of those moments of spirituality, but it can also make us lonely.  I do hope that for every family, in between “shop till you drop” days, families will make time for togetherness with one another, with others and with nature and remember that ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season.’

What will be different for many of us too will be our financial situation, maybe better than 2022, but for many more not so,  and how do we cope with that reality?    Pope Francis – don’t I always find reasons to quote him – on many occasions promotes  a ”blessed are the poor in spirit” mentality.  The Laudato Si Action Platform goals call it a sustainable lifestyle, or it may be “Live simply so that others may simply live.”  One of the most difficult things at this season is not only to adopt that mentality for oneself, but to promote and encourage other family members to do so too.  Children do expect gifts, and sometimes we feel obliged to give gifts to various people, just because, because it is the done thing. Is it really the done thing to do, or should it be?  Could the done thing rather be deciding together to give a donation to the Save the Children fund or other charities.

Children in war-torn situations, Gaza and other parts of Israel, or Ukraine, or countries around the world and even closer to home, in Africa, are crying out for food and the basic necessities of life.  Children in some affluent countries may be over-eating, while adults may also be indulging and drinking and driving.   Children everywhere are crying out for love, for time with their parents and families and for peace in the home.  

Some family spiritual activities for this season could be a family fast day, and give the saved money to the SSVP. Have a Family Prayer Meal or Reconciliation moment in addition to going to confession, pray around an Advent wreath, with candles lit, at mealtimes at home with the themes of hope, peace, joy and love for the different weeks. MARFAM’s website does have a range of Advent activities and the special 2023 booklet Families in Creation – Hope for the future offers many thoughts to ponder over. There is a very special topical family activity around A CHILDREN’S PEACE PILGRIMAGE, a parable for our time about children affected by war, while not forgetting their families suffering many losses.    Check this initiative too on dialogue for peace.

This Christmas will be different for everyone and different from last year. Growing older, growing wiser, growing more committed, more generous and caring are, or can be, positive choices we can make, unless we just allow ourselves to go with the flow, expecting the “same old.”   Then just maybe that is what we will get.  


Dear Loving God,

Christmas is a time for giving, loving and caring.

A time for being with others, having fun and sharing.

You gave Your Son, Lord Jesus, to save us from our sins

And to learn to live in such a way that all creation wins.

We thank you for your kindness and showing us the way

To help all people in the world to follow you each day.

May every man and woman and every girl and boy

Be honest, generous and fair to bring each other joy.

Bless all the lonely people, and bless those who are ill.

Bless everyone who cares for them, and those who pay the bill.

Bless those who have no homes, or have no food to eat

And as we serve each other so in heaven we shall meet.   Amen. 



13 December.  St Lucy and Christ our Light. . Lucy is revered as a young virgin martyr.  According to tradition her parents wanted her to marry a pagan man and she refused. He denounced her as a Christian at the time when Christians were persecuted. She was tortured for her faith and her eyes were gouged out and she was later executed.  She is patron saint of the blind. The name Lucy means light.   Her feastday is during this time of Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Light.

Scripture No one who lights a lamp hides it away or places it under a bushel basket, but on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. Luke 11:33.   Prayer to St Lucy.   Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity light up our daily lives.  Please help us to have the courage to bring the light of our faith into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation — every corner of our day.  Amen.  Pope Francis: The holiness of the saints in the communion of saints comes to the aid of our weakness in a way that enables the Church to fortify the weakness of some with the strength of others. The Face of Mercy 22.  Reflect, share, and pray:  During the holiday season remember those people who are suffering from various disabilities, like blindness and others. Offer any need you can and let Christ be our Light. .