November is the time of year we begin to plan for the summer.
We are already feeling some very warm days and enjoying having the doors of the house open early in the morning for the sun to stream in.
Some of us are even venturing so far as to try swimming in the ocean already; from experience, it is still cold enough to make your breathing short and sharp.
There is a general sense of anticipation, though also anxiety, as we gear up for the Christmas period. The shops are now beginning to vie for our patronage, as they advertise the newest and greatest presents on offer.
It is an exciting and hopeful time for many. Hopeful that this year it will be a hot, dry summer, hopeful that we will get some time off work, or be able to see friends and family we have not seen for many months.
For others, this is a sombre time, remembering those we are unable to be with due to many different circumstances, or struggling to make ends meet while also finding a way to buy presents for family and other events. It is a time of extremes that we, somehow, have to find a way to journey through.
Historically, the lead up to Christmas, in the church calendar, is a time of reflection and quiet. We are invited to reflect on the year that has been, while waiting expectantly and in hope for the celebration of when God became human in the person of Jesus.
As we reflect on this, we can be reminded that the Christian celebration of Christmas is focused on God entering into human experience, to journey with us. We are reminded that happiness and fulfilment, true human flourishing, happens when we take the time to share experiences, to care for each other and encourage each other.
In our planning for the summer period, especially in the lead up to Christmas, we can often get drawn into a consumerism trap, where presents and money become the focus. However, this does not have to be the way. Rather than allowing our planning to be focused on all the things we need to get done or need to buy, what if it was focussed around all the ways we could spend time with family, friends and the community?
Here in Te Awamutu, we are blessed with so many opportunities to spend time together in the community. On November 25 we have the St John’s Anglican Gala day, the Rotary Christmas Parade on December 3, Churchyard Carols on December 8 and so many more.
These events are times when we can actively set aside time to spend with family and friends. To make memories and enjoy being part of the community. I wonder how the holiday season in Te Awamutu could be more fulfilling if we decided, as a community, to make spending time together, supporting each other, building relationships the priority.
What can we do to care for our community of Te Awamutu, this year, that will make a difference in people’s lives?