May 20, 2022

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“Happy birthday is making space for each other”

Read Uluj Polistad’s Christmas message in 2021.

Merry Christmas we say to each other. But what exactly is a happy birthday? Christmas is the time when everything gets stronger. The good gets better, and the bad hurts more.

NRK wrote a while ago about parents of young children struggling to adjust to life in the lead-up to Christmas. “The biggest pressure is all the expectations from the people around us,” says the overwhelmed mother of young children. With young children, a full-time job, Christmas closings and X number of Christmas tables – it can take your breath away.

For others, Christmas is deafeningly quiet and reminds pain of the phone that doesn’t ring and the visit that doesn’t come. Loneliness is one of the challenges of our time. Young people and the elderly are the most vulnerable. And at Christmas it becomes very visible and inflated.

There is a great distance between the expectations created for Christmas – and the reality many experience. Vacations full of complexity are neither fun nor relaxing. Anxiety, stress, illness, and loneliness can easily turn the joy of Christmas into a fear of Christmas.

So what is “happy birthday”?

If there’s one thing this pandemic is showing us, it’s the value of more time together. A good Christmas is when we are with the ones we love.

We make merry christmas when we give some of our time to those who have a lot of alone time. A good Christmas is when we are more interested in seeing each other than the clutter we haven’t managed to clear.

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For me, Merry Christmas is creating space. Spending time with friends and family – and creating space for those who don’t. There should always be room for another person around the table.

As Christmas approaches, my thoughts go to all those who work in an overburdened healthcare system. Those who will work on Christmas Eve, those who will work during Christmas in space.

The pandemic has killed all of them. At the beginning of the pandemic, we brought everything together in a joint effort, and now I know the buffer stock has been used by many employees in the health care system.

The nurses are tired and desperate. We have everything they have and more and we need more nurses in our country. But we also need to give those we already have a big thank you, not just in words, but in due appreciation for the work they are doing so that it can be continued.

For many children, Christmas is the most important event of the year. Excitement, complete joy, anticipation. At the same time, nearly half a million children in Norway live in families where at least one parent has a mental illness or substance abuse problem.

Then Christmas can also be a difficult holiday. I grew up with a mother who was mentally ill. Whether Christmas is okay depends on what the mother looks like. It made me take on a lot of responsibility early on in the house. A mother’s illness was affecting everyone – especially at Christmas. Many children have to take responsibility for something that is not their fault. Happy birthday is all about kids being kids. A good Christmas is not to be afraid that mom and dad drink too much. A good Christmas is about feeling secure – more than the height of a gift set.

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We make a good vacation when we look beyond ourselves, and do something for those who need it most.

A Christmas story is about a baby boy and a light of hope for the world is lit.

But the same story is also about a small family – with a newborn baby – who has to flee. We know today that there have been no more people fleeing the world since World War II. More than 80 million people are far from their homes. A Christmas message reminds us of solidarity. The Christmas protest song “Delicious is the earth” reminds us that we must never get enough of ourselves.

Yes, we should rejoice in what we have – while reaching for those who do not have.

Two words that sum up all the good news about Christmas: Fear not! These are good words to take with you when we once again face an uncertain time. The epidemic is not over, but we will get through it. together. Merry Christmas is all about hope and light – and room for more. We light candles because light is always stronger than darkness. We light candles for everyone who yearns for community, peace, and freedom. We light candles for everyone who is anxious and worried.

We light candles because the birthday message is: Love is the greatest thing.

Merry Christmas!