How many pine needles are there on a Christmas Tree? I wondered about this when I took down my tree just after the Epiphany.  Having removed all the lights and decorations, the tree looked fine to me, but the floor was carpeted with pine needles. Then I pulled the tree towards me, and danced it across the room, into the hall and pushed it out the door.

It still looked good, but oh my God there were pine needles everywhere. I picked up the big bits, brushed away all the needles stuck along the edges of the carpet and then hoovered and hoovered and hoovered. When at last I was finished, got the hoover packed away, and darkness was closing in I reached over to close the venetian blinds and roared in frustration as another cloud of needles fell onto the pristine chairs and carpet below. I think that for as long s this lockdown lasts I will be picking up errant bits of Christmas Tree.

Still it was worth it, the lights from all our houses, on trees inside and out, have illuminated the dullness of these mid-winter days. Finding light shining through the darkness is a real theme of Christmas, and it comes from our wonder and awe by the crib, in the generosity of parents, faily and friends, and yes even Santa himself, as so many gifts have been given and received.

We have a lot to be thankful for even in this strangest of years. Covid may have changed our plans but our hearts were in the right place. Covid can’t control who we love, how we share or shake our belief in the one born in Bethlehem. We will take up the challenges of the New Year, drawing strength from longer days, hopefully brighter and warmer, and remain strong in our resolve to make the most of our time, to care, love and support each other.

We will dream of better times and hope that they come soon, reuniting us with those we love, lifting the veil of fear and anxiety that many experience and restore the best of the life we had before. Hopefully we will be all the better after these tough months, kinder, more aware of the needs of others and ever generous in our care of the vulnerable and the poor.

Happy New Year.

P.S. there are pine needles on my pillow, they must have been stuck in my hair!  Ahhhhhhhhh