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A Reflection: A better kind of Christmas

November 17, 2015

ABM Board Member The Very Revd John Roundhill shares his thoughts about Christmas and the giving of gifts.


It is almost a cliché that Clergy don’t like Christmas. Too much going on and then the flatness of Christmas Day after the morning services have finished. The real sympathy here should be for spouses, partners and family members. I can’t be the only grumpy cleric on Christmas Day.

One vexed part of the season is gift giving, not only buying gifts for others but the hint telling about oneself. The questions, like the decorations way too early in the season. “What would you like this year?” “Have you thought about Christmas yet?” These are hard questions.

Last year I decided to come clean and tell my daughter and brother in law that I would like them to make a donation to a charity though the ABM Project Book. I am sure the conversation was not as easy as I am recalling it now, but all the same, that is exactly what happened. A Christmas card and inside a piece of paper “$40 for your charity”. It all seemed too easy for all of us. Christmas gift giving done and dusted.

But the very fun of Christmas came when I said to both of them that I was just too tired to choose, and could they look at the ABM Project Book themselves and make a decision for me.

The project book looked at home among the magazines and Sunday papers of Christmas, but what a breath of fresh air it was not to have to read about how to better decorate your home or how to stuff tomatoes with pesto.

So, on a hot summer afternoon with food being prepared in the kitchen, my two gift givers huddled around the project book looking for a project for me, for us, to support. The conversation that I could overhear was about toilets and access to education; about the lives of people beyond our own experience.

And I thought, this is a better kind of Christmas.  

The Very Rev’d John Roundhill

Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral Bendigo
and Vicar General of Bendigo Diocese