Christmas Day is fast approaching and I for one am so excited.
It’s the first year where both of our little beasties might get it. Bear will for sure and I think, having recently turned two and referring to any strange man we meet who happens to have a beard, as Santa, my Bunni will get it too.
One of the things I love about Christmas is how excited The Bearded Manc gets too. He’s not your stereotypical grumpy bloke about it, he cannot wait for the day the tree goes up – December 1st.
However, Christmas isn’t all smiles and frivolity for everyone. For many it is a time filled with dread, fear, shame and guilt.
Guilt that they cannot provide their children with the latest toys, or even any at all for those living on the poverty line – a place no one deserves to be.
Guilt that there isn’t a turkey.
Guilt that there’s no Daddy to share the joy with.
Shame at not being as successful as your siblings.
Shame over the work’s Christmas party, because you were all dressed up and flirting and now everyone is calling you a sl*t behind your back and won’t hear your side of the story because ‘Mike’s married and he’s a nice guy’. Well he isn’t!
Shame that you can’t afford the electricity and have to go door-to-door pleading with your neighbours for a few quid to put on the meter, while they’re enjoying Christmas dinner.
Fear that the bailiffs might come knocking with their size 11 boots.
Fear that the house might get taken from under their feet.
Fear that the drink might get the better of Mum again and she may not come home this time.
Dread that the police will come knocking about where that new Xbox came from.
Dread that Uncle Joe will be around for new year and you ‘don’t like it when Uncle Joe is around’.
Dreading the whole thing and wishing to just sleep through it all. It may be easier to never wake up again.
There are so many factors and reasons why for many people, Christmas isn’t much fun at all and I am so very aware of that.
But what can we do? I mean, really?
Well, many of us can give something, however small to help those who are struggling in our local community.
If you can afford it, buy a toy for a girl and a boy and drop it with your local charity for families in need. Just £10 spent by you could make a massive difference to a couple of kids who might otherwise get nothing, and to their parents who feel the weight of that on their shoulders. But don’t wrap your gifts because the charity will have to check the gifts to ensure their suitability and work out what age group they are for. Instead, donate a roll of wrapping paper if you can.
If you have lots of time, you could offer to help out at a soup kitchen over the Christmas holidays, dishing up hot dinners and offering up a few kind words to those who really need them.
Or you could check in with elderly neighbours who spend Christmas alone. Maybe take them a mince pie?
Talking of mince pies, if you can bake, or have £2 to spare, why not give some out to local homeless folk? If you’re feeling really flush, pop in the nearest pound shop and buy a set of hat & gloves too. It could literally be the difference between life and death.
If you’re able to fill your trolley with a few extra supplies, food banks would be grateful for canned goods, chocolates, women’s sanitary products, deodorants and baby essentials like nappies and wipes. Check your local food bank website for details of what they need.
Maybe you could get your kids to sort out their toys and donate those they no longer have any interest in? It’s never too early to start teaching children about compassion, helping others and how fortunate they are to have what they do.
We are not a wealthy family by a long way, but we can still do our small part and if everyone did the same, it would make things that little bit better for more people. Most of the above ideas cost no more than a couple of quid and some, nothing at all.
If you haven’t got a couple of quid to spare, and believe me I get it- I’ve seen the strain on parents who have nothing, I know the fear of losing your home because we lost ours – then give people your time, talk to people. It may mean the difference in someone feeling utter despair or hopefulness.
I truly believe Christmas feels a little bit more comfortable, if you you have helped someone out too. Otherwise, that voice rears it’s head every time you over indulge on food & drinks or buy yet another present that your kids don’t need, that’s says ‘do you feel good about all this extravagance?’
Let’s each do our bit, whatever that is and spread a little bit of love this Christmas. That’s the whole point, after all.