So what does Christmas mean to you? Is it just a marketing opportunity that starts ridiculously early in the year (not uncommon these days to see Christmas lights in October!), that adds pressure to spend more money than we can really afford on presents that most people probably don’t want, to eat more than is healthy for us and to breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over? To be completely honest, I do feel like this around Christmas time and it’s often difficult to remember, among all the hubbub, just what Christmas is really all about. So what is that exactly?
Well fundamentally, whether you like it or not, Christmas (Christ’s Mass) is a celebration of the birth of Christ; a religious feast day and let’s face it, whether you are a Christian or not, without that, we wouldn’t have Christmas at all (or Easter come to that). But these days, in our seemingly ever more secular world, Christmas should still be something more than just the commercialism or hassle it seems to have become.
I spoke in my last blog about kindness, and charitable giving being a reflection of kindness, and I will extend that thought to Christmas. If we can’t be kind, understanding and caring at Christmas then what hope is there for us? If you don’t celebrate Christmas for its true Christian meaning, then at least let the festive season “mellow” you a little perhaps, to think about those who don’t have it as good as some of us.
I was talking at a business networking breakfast this week about the extra pressures of Christmas on homeless people – loneliness and depression coming top of the list. I wondered how it would be for a homeless person walking past rows of houses, looking in to see Christmas trees and decorations, people partying with silly hats on and music and games being played with friends and family? Then they walk on to find a quiet spot to lay out their cardboard box to spend the night alone. Even the Trust’s own residents, who do have somewhere to stay, are still fairly lonely. Some of them are in fact accepted back to spend Christmas day with family, but usually only on the basis that they “sling their hook” afterwards. Sooner or later they are back on their own with the chance of loneliness and depression seeping in.
The Networking group (Business over Breakfast, Tonbridge) had a collection and donated £200 to The Bridge Trust – something that took me completely by surprise. THAT was a demonstration of the kindness and care I am talking about. Whether money to a charity, a cup of coffee and a kind word to someone on the street or whatever you can do, will go a long way to help people this Christmas who will not have the fine old time most of us will.
So, whether buying presents, putting up decorations and a tree, cooking Christmas lunch, partying etc. is either a bind or joy for you, please remember those who don’t have that opportunity – they just want to survive another night in the cold, another week without meaningful social contact or a new year where they try again to get their lives back together.
Let’s not allow all the tinsel dazzle us into forgetting the true meaning of the Christmas season.
Everyone at The Bridge Trust wishes all of you a peaceful and joyous Christmas and new year.