As we ease into December many of us will have noticed that the winter, Christmas, break is very much just around the corner. You don’t need to wander down too many high streets, or residential streets for that matter these days, to see the lights are up, the trees are set and a festive cheer is in the air. Whatever your position on religion or faith you will no doubt take the opportunity to rest and relax over the period, most will engage in some of that Christmas spirit but, I accept not all. And this comes in the week when the census reveals that half of the population in the UK now would not claim to be Christian. Interestingly, no religion is by far the second largest group. That would come as something of a shock to readers of particular newspapers who see their reality, but not the reality, everywhere.
When I hear the words Christmas is coming I can’t help but think of that traditional nursery rhyme and Christmas song…
Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!
… not the Coke advert, with that train of Coca Cola trucks.
When I was young we used to sing this without much thought of the real meaning. This year, this most famous version of this traditional nursery rhyme will have greater resonance and significance. Many, many more people will have the prospect of an increasingly challenging winter period. Many families will be torn between ensuring that they offer their children and families the Christmas they would like with a balance against what they can afford; be that buying presents, putting food on the table, paying the energy bills. Or just getting through until the end of the week.
I know that many of us, at this time of year, do think hard about those less fortunate than ourselves. Those ‘less fortunate’, as a proportion of the population, will no doubt be greater this year. We’ll all find ways of putting ‘a penny in an old man’s hat’ and if we can’t find ‘a penny, a ha’penny will do’ – that’s half of one pence – yes there was such a thing!
More recently, over the past few years, many of us have stopped sending paper Christmas cards, for charitable and environmental reasons. And that’s not to mention whether the postal system will get those cards through people’s letterboxes or not. Many of us will be sending an e-card and then making an appropriate contribution to a worthy charity. If that’s for you brilliant, if it’s not and you do want to send a card or two great and I’m sure you’ll think about how your chosen charity can benefit from the card that you sent.
As we drift towards that Christmas break we will all consider what it is that we can do in support of our family, friends and the wider community.
From the wisdom of the Charlie Brown series
‘Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone’. Charles M. Schulz
Oh and … Good luck with all that Christmas shopping, spend wisely.