This is my favourite Christmas quotation. It also sums up the period of Christmas for me. On Tuesday afternoon, as the school day finished, we all left for our Christmas break with joy and enthusiasm.
We headed into town as it began to get dark and saw the bright lights hanging in the streets, music playing from the traditional merry-go-round and people walking with festive cups of hot chocolate covered in cream and marshmallows. People were carrying bags of presents and wearing a variety of Christmas jumpers. There was an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation in the town, and a happy buzz everywhere.
We are looking forward to the holiday, as it is the time of the year when families come together and spend time with each other. We must enjoy buying and giving presents, but we must not let this be the whole meaning of Christmas.
In our society it is easy to worry that we have bought the right gift or the latest gadget, and will our family be happy if they have not been given the top presents on their list? For me this is not what Christmas is about. It is about spending time with my whole family and enjoying each other’s company.
When Christmas day comes I will be lucky to be sitting with my family enjoying a delicious Christmas dinner, opening brightly wrapped presents and watching Christmas specials on television – which may cause much lively discussion about who controls the remote!
But I will realise there are many people in the world less fortunate than myself. Close to home there are people who are lonely, sad or desperate at this time of year. They will struggle to buy presents and will feel the pressure that we must all be smiling and having a fabulous time at Christmas and New Year.
In Berlin there will be shock and terrible sadness. The spirit of Christmas will be lost as people mourn the death of their loved ones. And in war-torn Syria millions of people are living with enormous humanitarian suffering, having been displaced and having nowhere to live. Their daily lives are hugely challenging with little food, lack of medical needs and families torn apart.
So it will be for too many people in other places across the world where war or hunger or suffering oppress them. We mustn’t forget this.
I am lucky to live in Bury St Edmunds where Christmas will be a happy time of year. We have a beautiful tree in the house and we will light a fire and play games together. There will be laughter, joy and good food. We will have been to a carol service at church where we sing traditional carols and hear the readings of the first Christmas story with the birth of Jesus. I am so grateful to have such a life.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Zoë Pettit is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds