Aylesbury MP's Christmas message
"The Mayor’s Carol Service at St Mary’s Church is something that I look forward to each year.
"There’s a real sense of the Aylesbury community putting differences aside and coming together in celebration.
"This year St Mary’s Choir, Bedgrove Junior School Choir, Aylesbury Choral Society and the Aylesbury Concert Band did us all proud.
"A few days ago, I went carol singing with a group of friends, something I’d not done for a few years.
"It was immense fun, even if trying to sight-sing a half-remembered tenor line by torchlight and your fingers numb with cold presents a few challenges!
"And again, as in the Mayor’s service, there was a sense of joy and welcome from the people who opened their doors.
"Christmas is the only one of the great religious festivals that still stirs the hearts of a secular population.
"Of course you can argue that it’s just a matter of ritual. But the truth is that many of what we think of as ancient traditions are pretty recent inventions.
"The first Christmas cards were sent in the 1840s.
"Christmas trees were a German tradition, popularised here by Prince Albert.
"King’s College, Cambridge, held its first service of Nine Lessons and Carols 100 years ago, in the immediate aftermath of the Great War.
"So why has Christmas maintained its hold on the public imagination?
"I can’t be certain but I put it down to a mix of things: the focus on reuniting the family, the brief pause to feast before the full rigours of winter and the travails of another working year.
"But I think too that you cannot explain why Christmas still inspires the public imagination without taking account of the religious heart of the festival.
"The story of selfless love and giving, the image of the vulnerability and innocence of a baby, the tale of the whole world, shepherd to king, drawn to kneel before something of greater importance and wonder than any of our day to day controversies are what gives Christmas its magic.
"Merry Christmas to all Bucks Herald readers."