So, how do you do Christmas? Up until I was in my mid-teens, I thought it was perfectly normal to have people you didn’t know well spend Christmas Day with you, whether it be for Christmas lunch or tea. It was usual to wrap a gift to give to a child you didn’t know (and would never meet). We were brought up being told that it’s better to give than to receive (although we still got far more presents than our parents could probably afford, was it not for my mam preparing for Christmas from the January sales onwards).
We have hosted distant family, friends, an old man with no family (that my dad got talking to in the village). Anyone that we hear about that has nowhere to go somehow finds a place at our table, that seems to expand and contract to fit the people around it. We’ve tried to carry on the tradition that my parents started, now that we host Christmas (in our tiny little house) and we do takeaway meals/deliveries for the people we encounter that can’t come or can’t deal with the chaos (eight or nine people and a many, many dogs). This year, my dad mentioned a local man liked to see our annual menu (there’s a story behind the menu: we have a dog with separation anxiety so doesn’t like to be alone. So, we said that we would host Christmas lunches from then onwards and, since we had inconvenienced everyone, we vowed to offer the best meal we could, hence the menu. We try to offer four choices per course, just like in a pub or restaurant and release a menu every October, so guests can choose). Anyhow, it turns out that he’s alone as he doesn’t see his family, so we’ve offered a takeaway (with my parents being delivery drivers). Not sure if he’s taking us up on the offer yet, but it’s an option.
Another brilliant thing we’re involved in, is a charity called Feeding Families. They co-ordinate donors (who wish to give a Christmas hamper) to recipients (who are in need of a bit of help this year). There is a set list of items and you buy them and deliver to the family during Christmas week. The feeling of giving someone a bit of a break at Christmas is amazing. Our whole family is getting involved: my sister, parents, auntie. I’m so proud of the generosity of people in this region. The organisers deserve a huge amount of praise as they are on target to help over 1200 families in need this year (so far).
I’m so grateful that my parents gave me the gift of caring, as not everyone does, and I’m glad I had such wonderful role models. Bill Murray, in Scrooged, says it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eObVoC0dOp0