Written by Callum Peters
Callum has recently joined the group of Trustees for the Tim Peters Training Fund. As we come to the end of the year, Callum reflects on what this time of year means to him. Growing up in a Christian household, Callum tells us more about sharing the story of Christmas, looking back at a time when he dreaded the festive period and how he’s now reevaluated his outlook so he can look ahead to the future. This post was originally published on the BBC Staff internal website on 7 December 2021.
Full disclosure. I grew up not believing in Father Christmas. No treats left by the fire for him
and Rudolph. To be fair we never had a chimney so that would’ve ben a funny one for my
parents to explain.
I grew up in a Christian household. Church and Jesus were big parts of my life. Christmas
was a time where carol services and community celebrations would be big events, my
parents being involved as musicians and me making chaotic appearances in nativities. These
weren’t just festive activities – they were opportunities to share the Christmas story with
People ask if I thought I’d missed out on the ‘magic of Christmas’ as a child with Santa not
featuring much. It’s not like he was banned – far from it. The charity Santa sleigh would turn
up outside being towed by a Land Rover and I’d run downstairs to look at it for a few
minutes and join in with the carols. We’d be regular panto attendees at Theatr Clwyd in
North Wales. We’d do lots of these standard Christmas activities… but I was just never that
bothered by the idea of someone bringing presents down a chimney based on whether
you’ve been good or bad. I never thought I had missed out on that.
I had this reusable advent calendar – a series of tiny books going through the Christmas
story, right up to Jesus’ birth. For me, that was a big part of the anticipation – maybe I just
didn’t need Santa.
Christmas always included “family time”. As there were just three of us in our household,
plus the dog, the Christmas Day gang grew to include grandparents and great auntie and
uncle. The anticipation of that day – sharing time together, watching Nana knock over her
red wine, eating things that only come out for Christmas, sharing gifts, being at church for
what was effectively a party for Jesus during the morning – was always what made
Christmas so exciting for me.
Lots of people might identify with Christmas being family time. For me, it still is. But there
have been hard Christmases, especially in 2015 when as a family we experienced a
traumatic series of bereavements. I have dreaded this festive period for several years after
that. On top of missing these people, the Christmas experience we’d known for so many
years, suddenly changed and has never been the same since.
That caused me to think about how difficult Christmas can be for people who have no
family, who’ve lost loved ones, or struggle with it for other reasons. So, does Christmas
mean family time? I think it needs to be more than that.
Over this past 18 months, I’ve been prompted to spend a lot of time examining the life of
Jesus. Revisiting His character and the evidence for his existence has helped me re-evaluate
my outlook on this tired and weary world and what we can truly rely on. I’ve rediscovered
why we as Christians celebrate the arrival of Jesus, who knows us better than anyone, loves
us more than we can imagine, and has amazing things for us regardless of who we are and
how much we’re struggling.
Have a very happy Christmas. I hope it’s filled with peace, joy, love and some hope, if you’re
feeling like you need it.