19th December 2022

I’m writing this on 11 December, in a state of high anticipation – not just of Christmas, but of the pre-Christmas opportunity to head to Scotland to visit the newest member of the family, my great-nephew Freddie. I’ve seen some beautiful photos, but he won’t feel entirely real until I’ve been able to hold him in my arms, and I have been in a fever of impatience to do so ever since he arrived last month. By the time you read this on 19 December, however, it will already be nearly time for me to come back down south ready to spend Christmas with the rest of the family.

The trip to Scotland feels rather like Christmas itself. Our family has been planning the logistics almost from the moment we first saw a scan of the then unnamed baby, but the visit itself will be over in a few all-too-short days and before we know where we are, it will be ‘back to normal’. Yet anyone who has ever held a baby close, felt their small, floppy body moulded into your own, knows that their warm weight lingers even as you relinquish them; something in that intense vulnerability elicits an almost visceral response that goes beyond the immediate physical encounter.

After all the busyness of our preparations, I pray that this Christmas we will all be able to make time and space for that real and immediate encounter with the Christ child: Immanuel, God with us. And I pray that we will carry something of that encounter into the new year and beyond. Wishing you all a happy and blessed Christmas.

Debbie Pinfold