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Spirit of Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us again with all its attendant pressures and expectations,

commercial, social and emotional. Some, if not most, of these are obvious and have

had many words written about them over as many years.

The voices denouncing its increasing commercialism are as perennial as the festival

itself - the lost spirit of Christmas, the devastating effects it can - indeed does - have

regarding personal debt. Exhortations to be charitable at this time of year are

endless, encouraging us to search our souls, purses and wallets; appeals to our

consciences and emotions - some more subtle than others - are de rigueur. It is

taken for granted that we should do the right thing and the right thing to do is taken

for granted - even though that ‘right thing to do’ is as individually subjective as the

many, many people who now enjoy using the phrase.

Of course, there are easy-wins here: children - sick, abandoned, abused - are the

easiest wins of all. Who with a beating heart would not be moved by them at any

time of year, let alone during this special season of goodwill? ‘The elderly’ (whoever

they are) cannot be too far behind, surely, though they may find themselves in keen

competition with cute, fluffy animals - depending upon the celebrity espousing their

cause. Homelessness or poverty can be a little more difficult to sell according to political

allegiances or personal tenets, though even some dyed-in-the-wool, proudly self-

made paragons will relent at Christmas when faced with somebody who does not

have a roof or cannot afford a turkey. Especially if they have read Charles Dickens.

Social pressures are equally evident; Christmas is a time for family and friends,

apparently. For those whose memories of Christmases past are fond ones, that may

be fine. But for the many more whose memories and experiences have been less

than happy, this can be the very worst of times.Expectations and pressures placed upon them, spoken or unspoken, to get into the spirit of things may be well-meaning enough on a superficial level. But, in reality, they can be both insensitive and oppressive.

If there is any resonance in last month’s blog - of people feeling lonely in the

company of thousands or even in the company of those closest to us - it takes a

short leap of imagination to realise that such feelings of isolation will be magnified at

this time of year. How many of us are truly brave enough not to put our own needs aside to live up to the expectations of others? Far, far fewer I suspect than we would like to think or are prepared to understand.

How many of us are truly brave enough to seek happiness for life and not just for


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