I asked, you answered: Christmas is magic, panic, romantic …

I sent these three questions to many friends and relatives.

Question 1: Are you looking forward to Christmas?

Question 2: Can you explain why?

Question 3: What do you wish for this Christmas?

I got 44 responses. The answers were interesting! Here’s what I learned.

Question 1: Are you looking forward to Christmas?

25 persons responded “yes!”. Most people are looking forward to Christmas.

Two persons gave a resounding “no.” They said they’re not looking forward to Christmas because they think the season is too commercialised. They think there’s too much merry making. They think this makes a mockery of the real meaning of Christmas. One person said the Christmas season is too busy to be enjoyable.

Two others said it didn’t feel like Christmas to them. For one person Christmas was “not in the atmosphere since coming to Malaysia, because the weather is too hot”.

Between the yeses and no’s, about 6 people said they are looking forward to Christmas but are a little stressed over it because they can see there’s a lot of work to be done.

Four persons were ambivalent, i.e., they have mixed positive and negative feelings, because although they do enjoy Christmas, there are parts they don’t enjoy, e.g. having to deal with relatives. They also feel sad over family members who’ve passed away. One person took a more macro view and said It just doesn’t seem fair to enjoy ourselves in the face of human suffering on earth.

I was surprised that as many as 6 persons are dispassionate about Christmas i.e., they have no strong feelings either way. Christmas is just another day for them. They’re grateful for each passing day. Two positive souls said it’s Christmas everyday (“Emmanuel, God with us”). Another said that as a child they used to celebrate Christmas with gusto, but the gusto ended when they realised Christmas has roots in pagan tradition.

Question 2: Can you explain why?

If you think the answers to the first question are not so straight forward, wait till you learn about the answers to Question 2. It’s a whole lot more complicated! I’ll just focus on the people who said “yes” to Question 1. (Please bear in mind that there are overlapping views and multiple answers to the same questions).

Some answered theologically, i.e., they focussed on the nature of Jesus Christ – “the Incarnation of Christ makes the greatest difference in salvation history.” Christmas is a reminder of the supernatural birth of Christ and the love of God which reconciles us to Him. Christmas will have no meaning without Christ. Christmas is a good time to remember and commemorate Christ and the reason He came to earth. Six persons responded with this view.

Closely related is the thought that Christmas MUST be celebrated since it’s the day of Jesus’ birth. The birth of Jesus gave us new birth as believers and we have eternal life in Christ. We have reason to celebrate and rejoice. Christmas is the time we align ourselves with Him. Christmas is a day to mark the promise of hope, of peace, of joy of a better tomorrow. It’s a celebration of God being in our world and in our lives (14 persons responded with this view).

Christmas is a time for family, friends, and the church community. It is the time for long awaited reunions (especially post pandemic), get togethers, all of us meeting together. Christmas is the family atmosphere, the joy in the faces of others and the church community rejoicing together that warm the cockles of our hearts. Many responded with this view (18 responses).

For some it’s a time of nostalgia, of childhood memories of carefree days. It’s also a romantic time to look back on our past with joy and gratefulness. (2 responses)

Christmas is also a magical time of extravagance and colour, there’s the magic of Christmas carols, Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas cards, beautiful lights and shopping malls, gift exchanges, shopping, holidays, goodwill, and cheer, (someone responded “moving house”), new clothes, presents under the Christmas tree, cake, candy, good food and drink. Surprisingly only 6 people responded with this.

Question 3: What do you wish for this Christmas?

On a macro level, it’s an eye-opener to see that many people wish for peace, love, and joy for Malaysia. Many of the prayers are for unity in this country in love and care, a better Malaysia. For a healing of Malaysia, that there be righteousness, justice and mercy and an end to racial and religious polarisation. This is also correlated to a prayer for financial security and economic stability.  (A foreigner wished that their own country would be better than it is now and that people would live in peace and security) (11 responses)

For safety of Christians worldwide during Christmas celebration; safe journey and mercies for all travelling (2 responses).

At a personal level, on the top of this list were prayers for people, family, and friends to experience the love of God. And that loved ones, friends, family and others will come to know Him personally and feel the Divine embrace of the Father. Prayers for joy, hope, peace and love for loved ones. The one that touched me most was this candid prayer “Longing for family. Miss them so much I wish to hug my mom” (10 responses).

Parents prayers for their children – for some it may be the last Christmas before they go overseas for studies. Prayers that their children will be more focussed on the Bible and warm up to Jesus (3 responses)

Prayers for better relationships with siblings (2 responses).

Prayers for health and strength both for self and for others. One person prayed for better memory so that they would memorise scripture as before (7 responses).

Prayers to experience His transforming power and love and to receive supernatural wisdom (2 persons)

Prayers for an outpouring of the Spirit, that more and more will turn to Him, turning their darkness to light, that the invitation to the banquet table may go out to those in the “highways and byways.”

Prayers to serve others, the poor; and to share and care (2 responses).

Prayers that every day will be felt as beautiful, regardless of the weather; and that every day will be a day of wonder, to keep learning about ourselves.

Prayer for wealth and prosperity, new clothes, and better celebrations (3 responses)

Then there were the ones who didn’t want anything. They’re just content (4 responses)


The three simple questions revealed so many thoughts, wishes, desires. Perhaps it’s not a stretch to say the responses and yearnings of so many are visionary, even prophetic. They each spoke of the past, present, and future longings for something real, something good. That “something” is God Himself.

It strikes me that the responses are of hope, love, joy and peace. These small words encapsulate the essence of Christmas – I can see why these are the names of the Candles of Advent: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.

Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace have their origins in God our Father. God is the source of all Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. They also are gifts of God. We cannot manufacture them. Neither can we earn them. He freely dispenses them. If only we receive with openness! They are in the past, present, and future.

Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace are also virtues. They need to be cultivated, nurtured and made habitual. This requires work, action on our part. We have to learn to desire Hope, Love, to have Joy and Peace. Yet Hope, Love, Joy and Peace remain the fruit of our labour, the fruit of knowing God, fruit of our faith in God, fruit of the Spirit.

Finally, the 4 candles of Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace surround the final candle, the Christ candle. The Alpha and Omega, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. Rev 1: 8.

Now I see the logic of the forefathers of our faith, the tradition of the Advent Candles. We pause, we take our time, we light the candles, we feel the warmth, we see the light, we feel and understand with the heart, soul, mind, and body, we open the eyes of faith. There is no need for too many words.

Thank you very much, dear respondents, for your prompt, honest and candid responses, and your help. I hope I have done you justice.

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