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What Christmas means to me

Rev Kate Bottley is a priest in Nottinghamshire and passionate about bringing stories of faith and belief to the widest audience possible. She currently presents Good Morning Sunday on Radio 2 and is a regular on Songs of Praise. Rev Kate is also supporting The Children Society’s Christmas campaign.

Rev Kate’s tip for a Jesus-centred Christmas

Don’t try too hard. Christ is present bidden or unbidden. We all know the reason for the season, and remember that Jesus loved large gatherings of people sharing food and enjoying themselves. His first miracle was at a party. And rather than grumpiness about commercialisation (which of course is an issue), let’s show those who don’t believe in the incarnation just what it means to those of us who do!

My childhood Christmas

We always spent Christmas either at home or at one of my auntie’s houses, but Christmas morning was always at the cemetery. My mum is one of seven and all the aunts, uncles and cousins would meet by grandmother’s grave to lay flowers and exchange gifts.

Then we celebrated just like everyone else with turkey and all the trimmings, loads of telly, plenty to eat and drink, and enforced board games, which I don’t like because I’m a bad loser!

Our celebrations today

My husband and I always go to midnight mass and usually church in the morning, although last year I was presenting the breakfast show on BBC Radio 2, so by the time I’d got home church had finished. There’s always lots of food and plenty to drink, with champagne and smoked salmon to start the day and port and cheese to finish. We usually take it in turns to have my parents or Graham’s mum, but there’s still enforced board games!

The Christmas I remember

The year I got my Sindy doll’s house was pretty special, but I guess the most memorable Christmas was the year my Dad was made redundant from the steel works on Christmas Eve. It was the first time I’d seen him cry. It was a pretty bleak Christmas and a long period of unemployment followed, as it did for many in the 1980s. It’s one I will never forget.

What I love most

Gathering with family and friends is lovely, but what really excites me is that there’s even more of an excuse than normal to talk about Jesus and my faith. My bookings for radio and TV go through the roof – everyone wants a vicar on their show – no one minds talking about the nativity and we hear worship songs (carols) played on mainstream radio and TV, which is wonderful. We can either sit around moaning that church attendance is in decline and no one wants to know the rest of the year, or we can embrace the opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice and throw a wonderful celebration.

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