This weekend people all over the Westcountry will be formally marking the end of Christmas as they take down the tree, remove the decorations and collect up the cards ready for taking to the recycling point. They might even carefully wrap the Christmas tree lights but that will do no good whatsoever. Until recently that would have more or less summed up my "Twelfth Night" routine.
I have been particularly callous about the cards. I would simply scoop them up and put them in a bag by the door ready to be turned into whatever recycled Christmas cards are turned into. Then I heard somebody speaking about their ritual for this time of year. Before they marked a formal end to the festivities this person would make a drink, pull a seat up by the fire and start to read through the cards.
He would take time to think about each name on every card. There were the good memories of past shared experiences. There might have been a letter or note in the card bringing him up to date with what was happening in the lives of his friends and relations. He would read it through carefully pausing to pray for each of these people. He had, he said, no idea what the New Year would bring for him or them but in that moment between the old and new years he could name them before God asking for blessing in their lives and, whatever they might face in the future, the assurance that God will be with them.
As I heard his words I felt quite ashamed and so I have made a resolution. This year before Christmas is neatly packed away for another twelve months I will take time to stop. I will thank God for what each of the senders of these cards means to me and I will pray. And as I do so I hope that others will be doing the same for me. If your cards have not already left the home perhaps I could invite you to join me. Happy New Year
Malc' Halliday is Centre Manager of the Christian Resources Project, Plymouth firstname.lastname@example.org