As I have been writing these daily blog posts about Christmas I cannot help but think that the issues that I have been writing about may see somewhat trivial to many people. My aim has been, like the blog more generally, to reflect our lives and concerns as a family, and chronicle the changes that I experience as a father of two young boys. The blog helps me to say that I do not find being a father easy, but also says that when I do put the effort in then the rewards are often great.
It is very natural for us to be concerned about our own situations and see the challenges that lie therein. Parenthood is difficult and Christmas is no different in that respect. In many ways those difficulties are magnified at this time of year as relationships and lives come under the microscope.
So I did want to take a moment, amidst my own issues, to remember those for whom Christmas is a far from happy time for whatever reason; be it bereavement, poverty, family crisis, conflict or environmental disaster. People for whom having a ‘normal Sunday‘ on Christmas Day would be something to dream about.
Concern for those who are less fortunate at Christmas for me is personified by my Auntie Enid, who lost her husband at an early age and who for the first few years after he died used to sit by his grave in the rain and freezing cold on Christmas Day. She refused all offers from family and friends to be with them at Christmas, saying she preferred being with her husband whose death had obviously devastated her.
Then she heard about Crisis at Christmas, a charity who provide homeless people in London with shelter, fresh clothes and food over the Christmas period. Her Christmases were transformed as she spent a week every year sleeping on concrete floors, and serving and washing the feet of some of London’s most disadvantaged people. She also used to collect clothes for the charity during the year and sent at least a large lorry load down to London every year.
Out of her own grief Auntie Enid, who sadly died last year, made such a huge difference to so many people at Christmas time; and she got a huge amount of pleasure from what she did but did not want to accept any praise for it since is was also her way of coping with this time of year.
I am always very humbled when I think of Auntie Enid and the people she cared for. It reminds me that Christmas is not such a joyous time for every one, and I am very lucky to have what I have. This helps me to realise this and, while it does not take away the real concerns and challenges that my own situation brings, it helps me put them in perspective.