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Who Makes Christmas?

16th November 2018

As Black Friday approaches as the start to the Christmas buying period I actually get a little down.

Like many of us not all my Christmas's have been fun filled, with some just downright miserable.  When my kids were smaller there was the challenge of wanting to see their faces light up at the size of "the pile" of gifts under the tree.  No one wants to see a kid think "is that it?" when they wake up.   Yet when my kids were young I had a mate who was a single Dad and all he could afford was one gift per child and he had four of them.  His youngest would get a PlayStation game which was still £30 at the time, but when wrapped, looked nothing under the tree.

He refused to feel bad about it, he'd done his best, they were housed, fed and loved and he couldn't do more than that.  He was up every day at 4am to work so the older ones had to get the younger ones to school but I don't think it was that unusual.

I, on the other hand, got myself into a complete state until one Christmas my youngest was just opening gifts and dropping them on the floor, in order to get onto the next one.  It was a light bulb moment and I realised that actually, it was a monster of my making.

This year, as we go into the spending spree, just think about if you really need to get all the gifts you do.  Give yourself permission to cut down to make it less stressful.  Try Secret Santa's for groups so you only have to get one gift instead of several, say no gifts for adults in your families.  What can you get each other, really?

I hate the idea that people are putting themselves in debt to get gifts, it's pointless.

I'm also not one for saying "let's help in a soup kitchen over Christmas".  It's just one day and who are you doing it for?  I'd suggest that for 2019 why don't you think about it as the year you set yourself up for the 2020's?  That's what I'm going to do, physically, career-wise and community-wise.  

I've got a plan to launch a socially inclusive, volunteer-run coffee shop in our tiny village.  The idea is that those with limited income, but who are lonely, can come along and work a few hours a week to get out and about (and get free coffee).  Kids in the village can help run it and we can teach them the business skills behind it, showing them the accounts, ordering, rotas, marketing etc and get them involved.  It also offers the many wedding guests we get to our lovely Church a coffee and a loo (there isn't one at the Church) before the service and we can create a tourism centre with other local villages using our walks, recreation grounds and community gardens to give tourists a wonderful, low cost day out.

It's going to take most of 2019 to do the feasibility study and get buy-in from the village, but it will launch in 2020 and will - hopefully - help many combat the isolation of rural living.

So that's my Christmas gift, both to myself - as I expect it to be hugely rewarding and highly challenging - and my hopeful gift to society.  What do you think you could do for your local community?  You never know, if enough of us start giving our time we could make all the difference in the World to a post Brexit Britain.  Shall we give it a go?




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