i Editor's Letter: And how was your Christmas?


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The Independent Online


So how was it for you? To those who had to work, or were among the many tens of thousands of  people without power or transport, I hope you found some opportunity to celebrate.

A motley 21 crowded the  dinner table at my fiancée’s parents: the nuclei of four sisters and their families, Granny, then a gaggle of additions, yours truly among them. Debutant significant others, a recent divorcee, a three-year-old stepchild and in-laws twice removed; all were welcomed, fed, watered and stabled.

Competitiveness runs in their family – at last year’s Boxing Day games competition, I witnessed netball’s first spear tackle – and this  time round Uncle Willy’s Christmas Day Quiz provoked ear-popping hostilities and required no fewer than seven stewards’ enquiries.

Spiritual equanimity we found in Midnight Mass at a lively village church in Oxfordshire. I am not Christian, although I have faith of a sort – in the power of human nature to meet adversity, evil and the inconceivable. But the Rev Jeremy Goulston, who delivered the sermon, is the sort of vicar who gets heathens singing and who lifts the Church from the pages of  scripture and roots it in real lives and community.

The Rev Jeremy spoke of  unconditional love, hope, of  questioning fundamentalism, and of absent friends. This Christmas, with the refreshing Pope Francis reaching out to “non-believers”, and Archbishop Welby’s call to arms – “No society can be content where misery and want exist...” – Christianity carries the promise of dialogue, and of social and political progress. I can celebrate that.


Twitter: @olyduff