I’m just a tad annoyed with the Mayans. You’d think they could have found a bigger piece of rock to carve their calendar on and we could have been spared the latest hullabaloo. I’ve done my best to have a bit of fun with it but, let’s face it, it’s really irritating that they chose to finish their world on December 21st. It’s far too close to Christmas, Mayans! Here I am, getting into Advent mode, and your silly doomsday thingee totally ruined the ambience.

Of course, it was exacerbated by the shooting in America and the knife-wielding psycho in China. Both whack-jobs went berserk in a school. Thankfully a good number of the Chinese victims survived because the guy used a knife. It might have been different if he’d had a decent gun. The bad thing is that both cases involved little children. I say let’s get Biblical with these fellas and find some decent-sized millstones for their necks.

Of course, the death of innocent children around Christmas time isn’t a new thing. Back when Jesus was a baby, sometime between 4 and 2 BC, Herod the (HA!) Great ordered his soldiers to slaughter every boy 2 years and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. It’s the reason Jesus and his parents became refugees in Egypt for several years. I expect they weren’t the only ones to flee. I sure hope they weren’t the only ones. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live through such a thing, although I expect the people in Sandy Hook, Newtown could tell me.

So…Christmas time isn’t just about bright stars, pretty stables with glittery snow on the roof, drummer boys and ho ho ho. It’s not all tinsel, holly and pretty baubles. The birth of Jesus is a message of hope, peace and goodwill but it’s set against a backdrop of injustice, brutality, oppression and poverty.

It’s time we let go of the Hallmark and Disney version of Christmas and tell the truth. The first Christmas wasn’t shiny, pretty, cosy and sweet. It was gritty, dangerous, troubling, dirty and tough. It was real.

The world still needs a saviour. We still need to embrace the angels’ message: peace on earth and goodwill to all people.

I hope you spare a prayer or two for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. I hope you spare some cash for the hungry and dispossessed. I hope you treat your world a little better, and be grateful that you are alive to enjoy it. As you celebrate Christmas this year, I hope you experience a touch of joy and kindness as you share some love and peace.