My mother will be here shortly to help me with the girls. Then we'll be off to church for a service designed to meet the needs of the younger element of the congregation, a competition to see who woke up first, lots of lively music, Vicar and Curate moving between church and church hall (no room for us all to worship together on this morning when the congregation doubles up), and somehow, somewhere in the middle of the short service, a few moments of reflection on the miracles of Christmas and Easter. After which, we will be spending the day with my parents, where wildly overexcited cousins high on chocolate and too little sleep will compete with wildly overexcited grandparents high on the joy of watching grandchildren open presents, we will eat too much and think about going for a walk but probably decide not to (it is raining a cold grey rain this morning), we will spend the afternoon opening presents and eating nuts and chocolate, and then we will come home and roll the girls into bed.
But just for the moment, there is peace in the house. Mog is listening to the radio, Little Fish is still sleeping sweetly. This is possibly the last year we can get away without having stockings; I'm sure that by next Christmas Little Fish will have been indoctrinated into the cult of Father Christmas by her playmates and teachers. For now though, I know that when I go into her she'll say "Hiya Mummy" and want to be taken straight to Mog to give her a morning kiss. She'll be excited to see Grannie and Grandad, she'll love watching the other children jump around at church, and she'll be quite happy ripping wrapping paper to shreds when we get around to opening presents.
So whilst there is peace in the house I'll be sparing a thought for others spending the day in ways they hadn't planned. For my great aunt, recovering from unpleasant surgery in hospital. For my friend, visiting her daughter ill in hospital and faced with the unbearable dilemma which comes from having one child seriously ill in hospital and other children, both well and ill, needing her to be at home. For another friend, faced with the prospect of being cut off by the phone company and left alone with a sick child and no means of contacting the outside world. For those of us (and there seem to have been a lot of us this year) who have lost a child or a parent and are facing our first Christmas without them. For the children living upstairs who were sent to bed in a fury last night and greeted by curse words this morning. For families separated, torn apart.
Two thousand years since the birth of Christ and still we live in a broken, suffering, world. Rachel is still weeping for her children. Two thousand years and perhaps not much has changed. But, two thousand years ago Hope entered the world and changed the rules. In one small corner of the world the King of Kings was born in a barn (did this entitle him to leave doors open for the rest of his life, I wonder?). Humbled himself to become completely dependent on imperfect human parents, to suffer the impotence of childhood and the trials of adolescence and then later the ridicule and revulsion of those he came to save. Two thousand years ago He died and defied death and rose again. Two thousand years ago, and we still remember. Two thousand years later, people are still talking about it.
So do take a moment in the madness to think about the reason why we celebrate today.