I sit here listening to Christmas Carols. I grew up singing Christmas Carols at school, went carol singing in my early teens back in the UK, collecting money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and always have had them playing in the background in the lead up to Christmas. They set the mood of the Christmas holiday for me. I have my favourite pop music songs, good for the parties, but while I could live without those songs, Christmas does not feel like Christmas to me without the carols.

I have often wondered about this. I have never considered myself a Christian, though what I see as the Christian message of love, compassion, service, peace, has resonated deeply with me. I am not even clear where that understanding came from? It is just something that has slowly become apparent in me. As such, that for me is the essential message of Christmas. I could do away with the commercialization of the Christmas holiday today, and nothing would be missing.

When I think of Christmas I think of cold, wet weather, frosty mornings (I don’t get many of those here in Hawai’i), nights closing in, warm homes, family and friends gathered together, church services…and singing carols.