Christmas has always been about giving rather than receiving – those who just sniggered get out! Ever since I was old enough and could afford to buy presents for my parents I used to get Granny Duncan to take me into town so I could get them gifts. Now it’s the kids and they have more than enough to be getting on with.
I suppose it was in 1984 though that the idea of helping and giving to strangers was an important part of Christmas for me. Anyone who is old enough to remember Band Aid and the impact it had on everyone from kids to grandparents is something we’ll probably never see again. After Michael Buerk’s reports from Ethiopia opened our eyes as a nation to the terrible and horrific scenes of starvation as we all were buying presents and food there was a sea change in attitude. Butchers, grocers and any shop who could had copies of that song on sale in their shops and it went on to inspire many charity events from Live Aid to Comic Relief in the following years.
From that came my belief in doing something for others at this time of year – it’s not a boast or a “look at me” shout, I just want you to consider the excesses we are all going to be indulging in this festive period and to ask I you’d think about making a donation to a charity of your choice. Nothing bank shattering, just a tenner or what you can afford because there are so many people here in the UK that will not have a great time of it for reasons often out with their control. The elderly are a great place to start and Age UK are the combination of Age Concern and Help the Aged. They will be supporting those who live on their own and will be at their loneliest during the festivities by bringing people together in day centres and helping them to heat their houses if they struggle with fuel poverty. For Age UK go to http://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/make-a-donation/
Another group that will not have a selfless Christmas are carers. While they will have their family with them they will still need to support those they care for – especially the youngsters who look after their parents or siblings. They will have all the responsibility to ensure that everyone has a great time and it’s important that we remember them and say a huge thank you for all they do in caring for others all year round. You can get information on how to give back to these carers young and old here http://www.carers.org/ways-donate-0 by making a one off donation or sign yourself up to make it a regular thing – could be your New Year’s Resolution for 2014.
Then there are those that will find themselves on the street without a roof over their heads or a meal in their bellies on the day that is supposed to be about family and gathering together. Did you know that in Scotland alone there are over four and a half thousand children who will spend this festive period homeless? Shelter work tirelessly all year to try to help people – often through no fault of their own – to find somewhere to live and start to rebuild their lives again. To make a donation visit http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/ and pop a couple of quid in to help those that need to know we’re thinking of them this holiday season.
It would be easy to list a hundred different charities that need our help but here’s the thing if we all make an effort they will eventually all benefit. So you make your donation to one of these causes or any you want to – pass on the idea or this blog on your Facebook or Twitter page, or even send a wee email round with a cause that you support and make a genuine difference to people who will have nothing to look forward to come the 25th. When you are standing in the Supermarket with a couple of hundred pounds worth of food – which you deserve and work hard for – maybe pop £20 worth of goods in the trolley for the food bank or pledge to give the price of a bottle of wine or the third dessert you were going to buy to charity instead. For most of us it won’t be a big deal but for those benefitting it could change their life.
That’s what Christmas should be about – remember others – because there but for the grace…