I have never been into material Christmases. That’s a result of my upbringing, no doubt. I inherited my mistrust of the belief that the good things in life had to be promoted with a lot of advertising and the attachment of a sparkly bow. I didn’t agree with my parents on a great many things. They got this right.
They also had a very Christian view of Christmas. My own view on that issue is much less literal than theirs. Those were our choices.
But I do think that the Christmas story was not woven by chance. Believe it or not, and the choice is entirely your own, there are narratives in it that I am quite sure that those telling it wanted told.
Amongst those are the equality of all people. It is an over-arching narrative of the story. It is reinforced by the stories of travelling, exile, foreign visitors, and reactions across society from shepherds to those with the status of being wise.
Tales of division, mainly created by wealth, also pervade, with the message being that they needed to be healed.
What’s the relevance if all this? Simply that this is what I was brought up on. I accepted it as true. I think it is true. I can find no evidence otherwise. There are, then, things that are right and wrong.
We all know it takes courage to stand up for what is right. That is why I was deeply encouraged by this video of Gary Neville. Neville is standing up for what he thinks to be right. He challenges the presenter who says there needs to be a balanced debate. Neville is angry - and very obviously so - when it is suggested that there might be an alternative within balanced debate to condemning racism. There isn’t. He knows it. And it shows.
That to me is what the spirit of Christmas is. It’s about standing up for all. It’s about not taking nonsense for an answer. It is about speaking truth to power.
Good for Gary Neville.
He’s got that there is no balance on some issues. Some issues are about right and wrong. Racism is one. It’s wrong. So too is significant inequality.
Right now, with a government led you a man who appears indifferent to both, this has to be said.
Happy Christmas. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. Whatever your creed, colour, gender, orientation or wealth. You have a right to be. I hope it is good for you.