We have known for some time that Christmas would be different this year, and now here it is, very different indeed.
However, as we have been saying, Christmas is not cancelled. It will be smaller, less social, more simple.
There is the possibility that in many ways it might be better.
For the Christian church, Christmas is not a day but a season. Christmas lasts 12 days, from December 25 through to January 5 (Twelfth Night).
On January 6 we celebrate Epiphany and the coming of the magi (kings or wise men). There are lots of advantages of Christmas being a season and not a day.
Everything that is good about Christmas can be enjoyed and savoured, without rushing through the whole season. A good Christmas takes time.
In addition, in the season of Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, but we remember other things as well.
On Christmas Day we hear the story of the birth of Christ, the baby laid in a manger where he is visited by shepherds.
On Boxing Day we hear the story of the first Christian martyr, St Stephen, and so we are reminded that being a good person and doing the right thing can be costly.
On December 28 we remember the story of the babies slaughtered in Bethlehem by Herod, and are reminded to pray for the many children in the world today who live unsafe lives.
On December 31, the story concerns the naming of Jesus (whose name means saviour) and we consider what it means to live a happy and healthy family life.
We see the New Year in, praying for a better year to come. So in the 12 days, we are encouraged to think of the breadth of life, its joys and its sadnesses.
Most people know of the Twelve Days of Christmas from the song, where one person receives an increasing number of gifts, day after day, from their true love.
This is a fun song to sing, but it can lead us down the wrong path. Christmas is not just about what is received, but about what we give.
Each of the 12 days is an opportunity to give to another person, to do an act of kindness for someone else.
Sometimes we have to be kind to ourselves, so that we are well enough to give to others.
This year, when so much is not as we would have it be, might be the best year to recover a habit of 12 days of giving to others.
We can do this knowing that small gifts given each day can make all the difference to those who are lonely or struggling.
So here is a list of suggestions of what you might do. Not 12 things, but enough to offer a choice of what you might do each day.
You could do the same thing for 12 days in a row (by which time it might have become a habit) or pick just a few things to rotate through the season.
How about taking a walk outside and saying “Happy Christmas” (or “Good morning” or “Happy New Year”) to everyone you meet?
How about sending a text, or making a call to someone, who is alone or far away?
How about taking a short time of quiet to connect with the present moment?
Being mindful of yourself is a great way to increase your capacity to be mindful of others.
How about giving (again) to your local foodbank? Hunger is not just for Christmas, and is likely to increase in the New Year. You can donate in stores or online.
How about lighting a candle in the evening, and remembering with thanksgiving someone missing from your table this year? If you are so inclined, you could say a prayer.
How about considering what you might do with your time in 2021? Could you become a volunteer somewhere?
How about attending an event online? Join an event with people you may, or may not know. Decide to make some new friends in 2021.
Now my ideas might not be very imaginative. I am sorry about that.
However, the key thing in Christmas season is do something loving and kind every day for 12 days.
This is just the thing for a different kind of Christmas. Happy Christmas season to you.
The Rt Rev Anne Dyer is Episcopalian Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney and Scotland’s first female bishop