Friday, 20 December 2013


I was at a friends house this evening for "drinks and nibbles", and one of the topics of conversation was about those in the Philippines still dealing with the aftermath of the typhoon that hit them at the start of November.

Then there's the Syrian refugees and the worlds largest ever appeal launched by the UN.

Closer to home an elderly couple talked about how they had nursed their daughter most of the year in her final months of a terminal illness.

Another friend had just marked 10 years since losing the love of their life in December 2003.

There is no doubt, this is a tough time of year for many around the world.

Now this all might sound a bit miserable and putting a dampener on things, but actually it was some what inspiring. As the conversations grew it became more and more apparent just how many people were so much more aware of the needs of others, and many had given to the big appeals this year.

A number of years ago I stopped buying and sending Christmas cards, choosing instead to give that money to a disaster appeal. A number of people in the room had also done the same this year. I received a Christmas card from my friend George, with a note inside saying this was the last year he would be sending cards as he was going to give the equivalent money to a worthy cause in future.

It's not that we were being miserable, but that we were bringing the issues out into the open and taking some form of action.  When I think back say just 10 years, the very idea that we would not send Christmas cards but give all the money to charity instead was almost taboo. The closest we would get would be to buy charity cards, which is something I guess.

There is still far too much commercialisation of Christmas, and we are bombarded for months before hand to buy buy buy. The pressure on less well off families is immense, driven by advertising influencing their kids to have the very latest whatever.

Over the past couple of months I have been privileged to have been involved in teaching high school students filmmaking. The last time we all met up it was encouraging to hear them talk about the pressures on families at this time of year, and they too were taking action to do something for those less fortunate.  I can't remember this ever happening when I was their age.

Of course the key to all this is global communication, and latterly social media sites.  Yes there is a downside, that advertisers get increased opportunity to target us, but on the up side humanitarian issues and appeals now reach everyone, of all ages, and I can see a shift in thinking like never before.

May everyone find hope and happiness in their Christmas stocking.

Merry Christmas everyone, wherever you are.

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