In the unceasing quest to earn a living in my taxi, this year it feels like most of the time honoured trappings of Christmas have passed me by. With only five days to go, there is still no Christmas tree in my house and the Bethlehem Star purchased at Macys in New York City in 2007 powered by an industrial device which converts American voltage to British and vice versa, remains in its box.
This will be my ninth Christmas driving a taxi. Some previous years, I have had the great good fortune to spend Christmas in a land far far away, or closer to home, with friends. But this year there is no choice other than to work on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, instead celebrating these occasions on 27 and 28 December, in the sort of twilight zone between Christmas and New Year's Eve.
Amongst other duties, I am making it possible for people to spend time with their own families, some on the other side of the world, and also covering taxi work for a respected colleague who has lots of children, so he can spend time with them.
One of the questions asked most often in my taxi is how did I become a taxi driver. A few people even say explicitly that I am somehow too educated and too posh to be doing this job. The truth is though, that everyone has a story to tell and we are all carrying a burden, of one sort or another.
For years, I had been living with my father, looking after him when he started to get ill, a combination of slow and long debilitating conditions brought about by a lifetime smoking, watching him slowly fade away before my eyes.
Christmas has not been spent with my own family for some years. Instead of Christmas cards from my closest surviving relative, every December, I receive a demand for money, written in a sanctimonious, vexatious and mendacious manner. It has been bullying of the worst kind, these last seven years, preventing me from grieving properly. And this December, it was once again brought back into the court system, where I had to attend to swear an oath for only the second time in my life.
"Would you like to swear on a Bible? Or you can affirm." I was asked, before requesting a Bible with the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. For the screaming baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago is the fulfilment of the law of the Old Testament and in him there is hope.
We the believers in the child Jesus who lived among us, died and rose again are called to love and moreover, to love our enemies as ourselves It is hard and it is difficult, but we love because he loved us. For me, there is no other choice.
Love, above all else.
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 20 December 2017