The best gift we could give

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We are not yet out of November, but it really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

The standard schmaltzy television adverts have already become tediously familiar but there is still one whole month to go.

I endured a phase of going through the motions over the Christmas period but my festive mojo returned eight years ago, the same time that I became a father for the first time. Now, like countless other parents, I relish the countdown to December 25 and have promised myself that I will make a conscious effort to savour every magic moment along the way.

It is worth remembering that there are hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t looking forward to the big day because it is highly likely that they will spend it on their own.

Loneliness is a real issue in our society with an estimated 1.2 million described as chronically lonely and charities have previously said that 450,000 people spend Christmas Day on their own. I should imagine the vast majority of those won’t be spending it alone out of choice so this statistic makes for tough reading.

We are lucky enough to live in a society where there are plenty of organisations that offer help to those who are less fortunate than ourselves but there are not nearly enough drop-in centres or volunteers to provide company for nearly half a million lonely souls on the most significant day on our calendar. This rests on us as society to stretch out a hand of friendship to those who need it.

Society needs to go back to basics and we need to start taking more of an interest in our communities. Professor Jane Dacre has argued that Britain has “drifted away from humanity” and expects the state to look after the elderly by providing them with a hospital bed rather than TLC. The professor believes the intervention of relatives or neighbours could ensure that old people are keeping warm and eating when they should. There are many decent folk who already do this but they are the exception. The majority of us could take a leaf out of their book and make a real effort to look out for somebody less well off than ourselves. It could be the best present that we give.