I think for the majority of us Christmas is a magical time of year and in particular for anybody who has young children in the house. To see the building excitement in the days leading up to it and the sense of absolute wonderment on Christmas morning is probably one of the greatest pleasures in life. There is something so special about the atmosphere everywhere you go, particularly in towns and cities were the Christmas lights adorn the streets and buildings.
It’s so good to see so many people in such good form, particularly those that you may not have seen for over a year, return for their annual visit home having had made a new life abroad, unfortunately in a lot of cases, not by choice. But they are home, the Craic is mighty and it’s like everybody has decided that the cares of the world can be left behind and it’s time to enjoy life to the full.
Sadly, this is not the experience for everybody and at this time of the year it is particularly important that we keep an eye out for those who are finding it difficult. For many, it will be the first Christmas they will have spent without a parent, brother, or sister, son or daughter sitting in their familiar place at the table. Others will be just trying to get out the other side of Christmas while putting on a brave face, knowing that their marriage is about to fall apart and that this will be their last ‘family’ Christmas. Many among us, and far more than you would think, will battle with depression which is often exacerbated by them witnessing so much joy in others but which they cannot feel in themselves.
There are also hundreds of thousands of people without a place to call home, a job, even more without money, without any sense of self worth and terrifyingly for them, without hope. When they look to the New Year, they do so with a sense of dread and fear because the simply cannot see a way out of the present circumstances. For many, Christmas amplifies the crushing sense of loneliness they feel and just about cope with during the rest of the year Throughout this festive period you are going to encounter some of these people at different times, make no mistake about it.
So if there is one thing that you will do this Christmas please let it be that you will make an extra special effort to watch out for signs, that some of the people around you are in difficulty. When you bump into somebody and casually ask “how are you getting on?”, listen carefully to their answer, I mean really listen. Unfortunately, people do not want to be seen to put a dampener on things and regardless of how much pain they may be experiencing they do not want to burden you with their problems, particularly at it is Christmas.
If you suspect that somebody is finding life very difficult please reach out to them. Offer to help in any way you can no matter how small as it will make the world of difference to them. When people are feeling very down it is unlikely that they will have the courage or strength to ask for your help but all you need to do, is offer it first. If you are fortunate enough to be in a position to help somebody this Christmas, doing so will feed your soul and reawaken your sense of humanity and humility. What’s more, it will make you genuinely happier……..
Also, take time to yourself this Christmas to reflect on your life, your achievements, your failures and most importantly the lessons that you can learn from them. Consciously find or make the time to be still, to sit in silence and above all else, be grateful for everything that you have no matter how little or great. You have the gift of life and that in itself is staggering.
Just in case you were not aware, in the spirit that is Christmas, I have made all of my photographs available for download, free of charge for personal use. Just click HERE and follow the instructions. You can use them for a screensaver, make a Christmas card or even a calender. Use your imagination 🙂
I will leave you with this beautiful and poignant advertisement which reminds us of the things that really matter. If you don’t have a tear in your eye after watching it I would suggest respectively that you check yourself for a pulse!
I am really looking forward to seeing many of you over the Christmas period when I return home next week and I promise to try to keep the whingeing and giving out to an absolute minimum 🙂