Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.
I thought of this opening from the movie Love Actually when I picked up a friend from the airport earlier this week. The airport was nowhere near as big as Heathrow, there weren’t slow motion sequences, and Hugh Grant’s voiceover wasn’t playing. What I did see and hear were people greeting each other with warmth and affection – a daughter wrapping her arms around her mother in a long hug, a group of people welcoming someone with a bouquet of flowers, a couple kissing each other. It being so close to Christmas, I assumed most of the people in the arrivals area were coming together to celebrate the holiday and that thought warmed my heart.
At the same time, I know that this time of year is hard for many people. Images of an ‘ideal’ Christmas in books, movies, advertisements and commercials surround us – multiple generations of family around the tree, friends gathered for a festive meal, everyone full of good cheer and good will. When the reality doesn’t match the images, we can wind up feeling alone and out-of-step. A Facebook post that circulated this past week reminds us that not everyone looks forward to the holiday season for any number of reasons – the death of a loved one, loneliness, job worries, health issues, unhappy memories of the season. This resonated with me because it is the first Christmas without my mother and however difficult the more recent Christmases have been with regard to her, I am sad when I remember that she is not here for the first time.
But then I come back to the opening scene of the movie and that final line of the voiceover. My hope is that whatever your circumstances this holiday season, you can see that there is love – perhaps not storybook, perhaps not romantic, perhaps not in the form you expect it – all around. I hope it warms your heart just a little.