Boxing Day Blues can begin any time after sunset on Christmas Eve.

It’s a bit like Vogon poetry. You may recall, if you have read or watch “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”, that when Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect have been ‘rescued’ by a Vogon starship, they were invited to comment on Vogon poetry (said to be the third worst in the galaxy). The two heroes suggest that underneath it all, the dreadful Vogon poetry reveals that deep down the Vogons are really nice guys who just want to be loved like any one else. It turns out that the Vogon captain uses poetry to put his meanness into sharp relief – in other words to emphasise how really bad they are. That said, he then orders Arthur and Ford to be jettisoned out of an airlock into space (without spacesuits) and that is where, you could say, their adventure really begins.

Christmas can be a bit like that sometimes. The magic, the joy, the fellowship, the “poetry” of Christmas can sometimes stand in stark contrast to our circumstances and/or to how we are feeling. Does it make us feel better if we realise that some of the jollity is a bit forced or exaggerated? When it seems that everyone else is happy, warm and well fed and we are not (perhaps two out of three?). I can count my blessings but I have not forgotten the Christmases when my spirits were low including the year when they were bleak. The cold winter brought snow but there were few sparkles in the frost that I had on the inside.

I can’t tell you what you feel or what you could/should do. Christmas may or may not feel like Vogon poetry. The thing is, and this is not much of a plot spoiler, Arthur and Ford do get rescued.

As for the religious message of Christmas: Jesus was tested in every sort of way that we are – that is one of the meanings of “the incarnation” (sorry about the theology during Christmas). God in Jesus knows what it is like; he knows from personal experience the sort of things we go through (short of actually sinning, that is). He is with us.

Merry Christmas, despite everything.