When the equinox came and went, when the days became shorter than the nights, when the sun had to work hard to shine through the fog, when the clocks went back and night came on even earlier; I said (very quietly) to myself, “Well, at least there is Christmas to look forward to.”

I suppose I do sometimes give the impression that I am not keen when we start talking about Christmas. It is true that I do not like celebrating it early. Think of it this way: when I have my own birthday I do like to celebrate it on the day (or as near as is practicable) but not several times over four weeks in advance. However, I do understand the need to prepare for Christmas in good time and that not everything will fit into 24th and 25th December.

Carols need to be practised, decorations prepared, food made or ordered specially, perhaps even a present two to get sorted. Then there is the time we spend thinking about Jesus and the fact that we are celebrating God coming to us, not as a warrior, angel or king, but as a vulnerable baby. Christmas is a special time that many of us are looking forward to

Some people, though, have good reason not to look forward to Christmas. Budgets are as tight as ever and to spend extra on special food, decorations or presents, is just not an option for some people. Others will have lost someone dear to them this year and this will be the first Christmas they spend without them. Meanwhile some people find that they have to work over Christmas and their family time gets lost in the way. There are people in the armed forces overseas separated from the ones they love. Then there are the hungry and homeless perhaps overseas but some will make their way to places like the Hope centre. And yet others will find themselves not at home but in hospital whether through accident or illness.

So although I am looking forward to Christmas (and hope you are too), let’s spare a thought for those who are not.