Written by Will Lee.
Earlier this year we moved house. Even though we’ve been in our home for nearly 6 months, there’s still some neighbours on our little street that we’ve still not met. So with Christmas coming up, I hatched a cunning Christmas plan to gently break the ice. It’s quite a challenging mission, needing guile, skill and patience of the highest degree.
My cunning plan was to write every one of our neighbours a warm Christmas Card, signed Will and Jen (Number 10) xx
I know what you’re thinking.
Two kisses. Risky.
What’s more, I even challenged myself to post it through their letterboxes.
I know, I’m wild.
But let’s just take a step back for a second.
Do our neighbours even send Christmas Cards? Do they celebrate Christmas? Do they acknowledge Christmas? Do they celebrate Hanukkah, Eid or the winter solstice? Will it begin some form of annual obligatory non-offensive gift buying routine that continues as long as we both shall live?
But when we give Christmas some thought, it’s quite the social hand grenade. Due to aggressive marketing campaigns, 20th Century imperialism, and the Coca-Cola trucks, everyone has some form of relationship with Christmas.
Everyone has ideas and prior conceptions about Christmas. Everyone has ideas and prior conceptions about God, and Jesus too. I think this is why some people can get a bit uncomfortable whenever God or faith is mentioned. Before the conversation even begins, we’ve all got a bank of thinking or ideas that we bring to the table.
A close friend of mine once told me about their childhood. They told me that their mum taught them that when an ice cream van played its merry music, it was because they had run out of ice cream. It was only in their mid-teens that this friend painfully found out that his mum had been lying to not have to fork out for ice cream.
I used to work in a homeless centre. There, Christmas was played down as for many of our clients, the Christmas period was a constant, harsh reminder of broken family relationships and how stark their circumstances were.
As a statement of our support with the difficulties of our clients in mind, we organised a large Christmas dinner and made a huge effort to ensure all clients were invited. In a sense, we were trying to rewrite their Christmas experience into something positive.
What we’ve been taught or gone through shapes our understanding and how we respond.
That’s why in the video, the message was always that God is in Sheffield, and whatever your circumstances, whatever you’ve been through, he loves you and he’s here for you.
It’s time to tell the story of the first Christmas in our neighbourhoods.
And what a story it is.
To watch the ‘Upside Down Christmas’ video, click here!