If you have kids, you will understand what I mean when I say that “party packs” are important to kids. Whether it’s a little bag of sweets or a balloon, kids love to get a present, especially when it’s not their birthday. I think that’s why kids love Christmas so much (and adults too – let’s be honest!).

As soon as I hear Boney M playing in the stores, I know the time is drawing near. Tinsel and twinkly lights, the sound of Christmas beetles in the garden, humid days and warm nights – that’s Christmas time for me. It’s a stark contrast to the Northern hemisphere where outdoor ice rinks are lit up and mulled wine or eggnog are dished out everywhere you go. Regardless of which season or hemisphere you find yourself in, there is something magical about Christmas time.

The Christmas buzz starts early these days – from mid-October, we start to see evidence of Christmas and the planning begins. For some, planning Christmas is stressful. Each family has its own “Christmas code”. It can involve alternating each year with different family members or spending Christmas Eve with one family and then Christmas Day with another.

Whether your family goes “traditional” with a roast or “SA traditional” with a braai, Christmas day generally involves a lot of food. Our family is huge and Christmas is a noisy affair of at least 25 people ranging in age from a few months to 83 years old, all sitting around a table. It’s chaotic, hilarious, happily exhausting and yes, there is LOTS of food.

It’s a day when family memories are made. When I was about 10 years old my aunt offered to cook the turkey – she hadn’t defrosted it and didn’t read the instructions of “time/kg”. The result was a burnt turkey that was still frozen in the middle. We ended up getting Kentucky Fried Chicken instead!

Some people choose to spend the day quietly while others are far away from their loved ones and wish they could be together. Christmas is a day of family & friends and no one should be alone. It is the time of year when goodwill is tangible (unless you’re in a supermarket on the 24th of December and there is one turkey left and 5 stressed women….goodwill waits at the checkout!), but the goodwill and love are never more tangible than at the Christmas morning church service. The CityHill family is who we start Christmas Day with – a moment to give thanks and appreciate the day ahead.

It’s easy to get caught up in the planning of the day to the point of forgetting the point. Christmas is a celebration! It is the celebration of Christ’s birth – a celebration that His birth was the fulfilment of a promise that allows us to live under God’s mercy and grace. “For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son.”

Christmas is the birthday party that we are all invited to. Through Christ, we are all related and become one family under God. So if you don’t have an earthly family to spend the day with, remember that you are part of God’s family who invites you to celebrate with Him every day, not just on the 25th of December. We give and receive gifts at Christmas but we have already received the best party pack from God – eternal life in God’s kingdom with the Birthday Boy Himself!

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