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L I V E 2 4 -SE V EN


CLAIRE IN THE COUNTY TIZ THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY


…but is it really? The clocks have changed, the fires are lit, the curtains are drawn and we hide ourselves away as the weather closes in…


We cling to Halloween, Bonfire night and to Christmas to ‘get us through’, but how depressed do you feel seeing Christmas gift sets, decorations, Christmas cards on sale in August – yes, I spotted some in August! Every year it seems that there's this need to get more and more ‘stuff’ onto our supermarket shelves, more and more marketing to make us spend money that we don’t need to spend on ‘stuff’ that we just don’t need.


Gosh, this sounds very bahhh humbug? I don’t mean to, but I see so many families struggling at this time of the year, the pressure is on, the ‘pester power’ adverts are hitting our screens, more and more children demanding the latest iPhone, the latest pair of trainers and more and more families fall into debt…and for what?


Why do we do it every year? The same old, same old? Perhaps this year we should have a rethink and change our behaviours, religious or not?


As I type this I have the radio on and I’m listening to the latest reports on global warming, and the need to recycle and to save the planet. I hear about the ever- increasing debt, and how divorce rates go up (down to stress and money worries) this time of year, the festive season has the negatives as well as the positives, some of which can be avoided by avoiding the vicious circle.


Time to think about our planet and our people, time to have a socially responsible Christmas. Let’s go back to enjoying the simple things in life.


We're all under pressure of one sort or other, the one good thing about the festive break is the ‘time out’ that we’re bestowed, so how can we use it well? How about creating memories for our families instead of buying gifts? We could make things together!


A winter walk to forage for sloes to make delicious homemade sloe gin? Make lovely handmade Christmas cards and gifts – the kids love this! It’s a chance to spend time together, get creative and create memories – to come together with a common purpose in creating gifts to cherish and keep? Even better – if we can make Christmas presents from recycled materials, how good will that make us feel?


My daughters will share stories of us making gingerbread stars, decorating them and handing them out to friends and family to hang on Christmas trees. They’ll share how we burnt the first batch, over did the ginger in the next batch – but we laughed, and we worked together and we talked… something too few families seem to do these days.


I hope this inspires you to do something different – to start your own new traditions this year. Don’t worry about what the neighbours think, just do it. Life really isn’t about material things, its truly about making memories to cherish. Sometimes, people have everything they need and all they really want is some time with you and yours. Christmas can be far from jolly when you are alone and certainly far from jolly when you’re up to your neck with stress and debt. This year keep it simple, play silly games, make lovely homemade gifts, cook your own Christmas mince pies and puddings, invite the lonely neighbour round for a sherry. Perhaps this year it can be the season to be jolly?


/ 94


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