Christmas-time and a time for celebration with lots of family and friends. We all try and deck our homes with whatever decoration appeals to our taste. Whether we put up holly and ivy, or tinsel and glitter, we usually do it with a sense of joy, don’t we? Children become excited at the prospect of Santa and all the presents on Christmas morning, and in our family all the grandchildren have taken part in Christmas shows at school.

But it can also be a sad time for many. Not all of us will be with those we love, or have loved. The Winter days can bring warmth, log fires burning, twinkling trees (whether sparking with frost or beautiful fairy lights) or darkness and cold. I know which I choose, every time, but not everyone has that choice, or do they?

I recently offered a series of competitions on my Facebook page and in one I asked everyone to send blessings to someone they loved. You may have even taken part. It was lovely to see all the wishes and blessings whizzing round the ether. The internet certainly has some great advantages. Then we offered a competition and asked everyone what gift they would ask the angels to give to humanity. Most of the answers asked for love, forgiveness, and peace. Beautiful wishes, for meaningful gifts.

My own wish would be for these things too. Love, forgiveness and peace are three of the most valuable and essential ingredients of life on Earth. But the angels cannot do this for us. We have to learn to make the right choices, use the right words, act in the best way, use our inner wisdom, with compassion and dignity. Firstly for ourselves, our own family members and friends, and then watch as it spreads in ripples throughout our community, our country and the world.

For love can only be felt if it is offered, forgiveness starts from our willingness to let go of whatever it is we are holding on to, and world peace can only happen if we work on our ‘inner’ peace first.

As I write this early on the morning of the Winter Solstice I’m aware of how much more the media are honing in on the festivals. Radio DJs wishing people a Happy Solstice and the BBC newsreaders commenting too! Wonderful! It is the shortest day here in the UK, (the longest if you are reading this in the Southern hemisphere). But this day is so much more than simply a measure of how much daylight there is. It’s a time for spiritual work, a day for taking some time to be silent, even if only for a short while, and contemplating the murmurings and insights of the soul. Our trees have withdrawn into their roots, to rest, re-charge and replenish, in order to grow into their magnificent fullness in the Spring. As we dash about making last minute plans for Christmas … can we also spend a few moments to tap into the yearnings of our soul? To draw down into the very roots of our nature.

Let’s all try to bring out the best in ourselves and reflect the best in others. It’s a tricky time of year for that, and family members can press all sorts of buttons. I know. But if we aim to be the best we can be then surely this is better than any material gift we could bring? Presents are symbolic of the Three Magi who brought fankincense, gold and myrrh, so as we wrap all the presents in the next few days l’m going to remember that this festival is actually about the child who was born to bring the greatest three gifts to humanity: Love – Forgiveness – Peace.

I wish you these in abundance, and may the angels surround you with unique blessings just for you.

Merry Christmas!