Thursday, 17 December 2009

How can you make a difference to someone's Christmas this year?

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and we had snow this morning. It is no surprise that Christmas falls when it does because just a few days before some will have celebrated the winter solstice on the shortest day of the year. It is lovely to have a time of festivity at what can be seen as the darkest part of the year in more ways than one.

Personally I love Christmas for many reasons. It is fabulous to live in a cold climate where Christmas pudding, cream and brandy butter makes sense. We need good solid food in the winter months to give us the fuel and energy required to protect us against the freezing outdoor temperatures. It is also a good excuse for mulled wine and as I write this I can almost smell the oranges, cloves and cinnamon that go into it. In our house we often throw the large cinnamon sticks onto our log fire and as they burn and the fire crackles we enjoy breathing in the wonderful aroma that permeates from the grate.

My youngest who is just two loves playing with a reindeer eye mask that friends gave us last year and despite my many attempts to put it away she always seems to find it and run round the house wearing it, often upside down, which causes much hilarity in the rest of us. My eldest who is three now really got into Christmas last year in that she started saying what she wanted for several weeks beforehand and was even heard to say “I need.” This was certainly an advance on the previous year when she was about 20 months and I was the one who was very excited about taking her to see Father Christmas. As soon as she walked into his “grotto” she became terrified and did anything she could to run away from him and what I had expected to be a fun excursion became fraught on a number of levels!

There is a serious note to Christmas and that is the fact that it is a time when there can be great marital tensions and break ups. It is quite a long time to spend together under the same roof for some families. It can also be particularly difficult for those who live alone and who either have no family or no contact with them. When I was growing up, we found ourselves in transient communities in far flung countries because of the nature of the job and there would often be single people around. My father has a great sense of bonhomie and I remember many Christmas days spent with random individuals that he had befriended.

I always enjoyed it because it added an extra dimension to the activities and is something that I recreate in a limited way now that I have my own home. Are there people within your own communities who will be alone this Christmas and if so what could you do to bring them some Christmas cheer?

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