There are always three defining moments that mark the time that I finally begin to feel Christmassy. The first of these moments is when I start to actually take enjoyment from listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies; singing along to All I Want For Christmas Is You whilst getting teary eyed watching Love Actually for the millionth time. Up next is the arrival of the tree, which we went along and cut down ourselves this year. The whole experience was something I would highly recommend; it really gets you into the festive spirit. We are now the proud owners of the widest tree one can imagine, covered in multicoloured baubles and a mismatch of decorations. The final defining moment is the one I am looking forward to the most. This is the time when the whole family gets together, I am currently counting down the days until my siblings join us and we can spend quality time (along with the obligatory family arguments over who is winning at Risk) as a family. This is what properly defines Christmas for me.
We have always been lucky enough to spend Christmas with loved ones, whether it’s with a houseful of twenty or just the six of us, Christmas is a time when we all come together.
Therefore, you can imagine my surprise when I recently heard some rather upsetting statistics. Nearly a quarter of all old people will be lonely this Christmas. Not only that, but as the days grow darker and colder, many are stuck in their homes, alone, scared to venture outside. To me, this just does not feel right. Everyone knows that Christmas is a time for giving, but perhaps we think of this giving in the wrong way. We live in a society where everyone seems to be more worried about shopping for the perfect gift, when they could be giving their time to someone of the older generation, making them just that little bit less lonely this Christmas.
This problem has been brought to my attention even more recently, as I have been volunteering for the small Charity in our village, South Brent and District Caring. This charity strives to help old people through one-on-one assistance, organising coffee mornings for people to come along to and general help with getting to appointments. The lady in charge of the charity, Sue, has gone above and beyond her duty to enable as many people as possible to feel a part of the community, and allow them to be less lonely this winter. Being part of this remarkable charity has been eye-opening; whilst I have grown up with grandparents that have been surprisingly active (one grandmother is lady captain at her golf club and the other plays weekly tennis matches), I had not fully comprehended just how many people require help, support and most importantly companionship.
So, while I count down the days until my family is finally reunited, and we can celebrate with festive cheer, I will be thinking of ways in which I can help those who may be lonely this Christmas. And so should you, give your time rather than a gift, do something amazing this Christmas.