Christmas brings out the best in people but it also brings out the worst in a few.

It’s not that there is nothing enjoyable about the build-up. There is. Most of us enjoy some of the hassle and pressure—which may explain why we dive into it so foolishly! There is also a comfort in knowing that we are in harmony with people around us—even it if is only in spending our money on the same merchandise.

There it is; I’ve used that word. But it is at the heart of the Christmas experience as most people now know it. The news speaks of the value of the season to retailers, workers, importers and manufacturers. For our comfort, this reality is veiled in tinsel and pictures of reindeer.

There is a danger that what we do at Christmas is dictated to us by people who have no place for the one whose birth ought to be at its heart. The toys were bought in bulk last February and now they have to be sold.

Targets have been set for the projected increase in the amount of alcohol and other drugs which will be consumed, and there will be consequences for people if these targets are not met. But what about the consequences for the women who become target of beatings by out of control, drunken men when these arrive home after filling the coffers of the pubs and clubs?

When people give over responsibility for their lives to others, terrible things can happen. People are sure to be exploited. Too often, people opt for having a good time, being part of the gang, following the crowd and not being left alone. Recent figures about the sharp increase in the incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases make stark reading. Behind them often lies a hidden story of shattered relationships resulting from marital infidelity. Even if people really believe that “Christmas is only for the children” surely their parents should go to the Christmas “do” with “don’t” on their minds.

This is part of the complex human reality into which Christ was born as a man. He came to bring us hope, to help us believe and know that a better life is possible, that God does not want us to be slaves but to be free. We still need to attend to that Good News.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth and the dawn of a new millennium of Christianity, may we keep our eyes fixed on him and be guided by his law of love.

I wish all readers, advertisers and friends of The Fold all the blessings which the birth of the Son of God brings to the human race. May your New Year be a peaceful one.

(Editorial in the Fold magazine, Dec 2000.)