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Christmas, what does it mean to you? To some it is a religious festival and celebration of the birth of the Christ child. To some it is the time to go mad, splash the cash and max out the credit card. Then bear the consequences after the great event.

For some it is an excuse to put the decorations up even before December has arrived. For others it is a time to show friends and neighbours how much you are spending on Christmas presents and food. (Now, is this to impress others- I think we know the answer to that one, and as for the trolleys piled high at the supermarkets, well there is only so much you can eat!)

candles

Christmas can mean different things to different people

Photo copyright Bursledon Parochial Church Council

Then there are those who like to "unwind" from all the stress by getting through the festive season in an alcoholic blur

Cynicism apart, for me Christmas is about having the family together, to spend time with each other and enjoy the day. Presents are nice and welcome, but family is what matters most. This year we are going to my daughters house and we will all muck in and help prepare the meal and clear away after. We want to keep it as simple as possible so we can spend time together chatting, watching TV, playing board games, taking the dogs for a walk in the welcome fresh air.

I count myself very lucky that I have a family to share the festivities with, but many are not so lucky

Christmas can be a very lonely time for many and instead of enjoying it, many dread the holiday period. It is not much fun pulling a cracker on your own! At a time when many feel isolated, it is sad to think that our sense of community seems to have evaporated. We should ALL make the effort to wish our neighbours and those in our area the compliments of the season. We ALL need to make much more effort with social inclusion-make time if only for a few minutes, to wish the older person up the road a Merry Christmas. Very often we mistake aloofness from someone else, but we should never judge a book by its' cover. That person, who on the surface seems to be a bit fierce or distant, could be masking loneliness or a feeling of isolation.

Years ago, when I used to deliver library books to the housebound, I soon found out that very often, I or the Home Help might be the only person they had spoken to that day, or even that week. I don't think things have really improved much forty years on.

Whatever our beliefs, we should remember to make more effort, and not just at this time of year. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could continue that all through the year? It really then WOULD be Christmas every day!

Whatever you are doing, and whoever you are spending it with, (and I hope you are) may I wish you a peaceful season of goodwill and I hope I have given you food for thought.

Friendship is a wonderful thing and who knows, if you do stop to talk to that older person, you never know, you could be so much richer for it.

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