Of all the articles I’ve written for the Christmas/New Year season, I have never written one in such
strange and anxious times.
The New Year Carol, by Benjamin Britten, contains these lines, that are thought to come from an old
Welsh Folk Song:-
‘Sing we of a Fair Maid
With gold upon her toe,
Open you the West Door
And bid the old year go.’
At the time of writing there is still just under 2 months of 2020 left, yet already I am seeing on Social
Media a desire that 2020 should ‘sling its hook’ and be gone. My favourite quote was,
‘I’m not going to put my clocks back this year, I don’t want an extra hour of 2020’.
It is almost as if the year itself is to blame for all of the ills we have endured over these last 10 – 12
months and that a change of date to 2021 will somehow improve things. In many ways it will and in
many ways it won’t. A change of date won’t make a virus disappear. It won’t make selfish people
less selfish. It won’t make greedy people less greedy. A change of date has no power at all to effect
change for good or ill. Only people can do this. Only we can do this.
If we want to live in a better world, a kinder world, a more caring world, a safer world, a more equal
world, the challenge for each and every one of us is, what are we, what am ‘I’, prepared to do to
bring this about in my small corner of the world?
What a change of date does signify is the passage of time, which is particularly noticed at the change
of the year. Only the passage of time is what will bring about the end of this pandemic. One of the
hopes that we know for sure is that at some point this pandemic and all the suffering it is/has caused
will be consigned to the history books.
One of the perceived flaws of Christianity is that it promises unspecified happiness at an unspecified
time and often for a specified few. Where is the hope in a message like that? Especially at times
such as these where hope is in pretty short supply.
Ironically, the very year where the threat exists that Christmas might be cancelled, might just be the
year that Christmas comes in a way that it hasn’t been able to for a generation. We have drowned
the Christmas message of hope and love, for everyone, in the commercial trappings that go with the
One of my favourite lines from the Christmas Carol, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, says, ‘The hopes
and fears of all the years are met in thee (Jesus) tonight’. If the end of 2020 enables us to rediscover some of the hope and peace Christmas is meant to bring, then maybe it won’t have been such a disaster after all.
‘Sing we of a Fair Maid,
With gold upon her chin,
Open you the East door
And bid the new year in.’