I read Bishop of Reading Stephen Cottrell’s little book Do Nothing to Change Your Life a while back, and for his latest book he has applied his laid back philosophy to the monster of the consumerist Christmas.
Do Nothing – Christmas is Coming is ‘an advent calendar with a difference’, a series of reflections for each day of advent. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, but in reality often becomes a time when “all the conflicting demands and expectations that we experience every day in our dispersed and fragmented lives seem at their worst”, as Cottrell says. What we need is to take a deep breath, and gain some perspective.
The reflections here address topics such as debt, in-laws, Christmas card lists, Santa, all in a low-key, humourous and accessible way. Cottrell invites us to be more outward looking, more relaxed about our expectations, and pinpoints the ironies of the season: “odd, when the Christmas story is about God coming to earth to pay our debts, to show us how to live, to show us what being human could look like, that we respond by running up more debt.” He does all this with a gentle approach to spirituality, making the book accessible to both Christians and non-Christians.
I know Christmas is still a long way off, but I mention this book now because it’ll give you time to order in some copies for friends or family members who get far too stressed about Christmas. We all know a few.