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When asked to write this article, lots of thoughts ran through my mind, but the simplest answer is a family weekend.

My son and his family visit most weekends, but our meals are normally simple: pasta bake, pizza, salads.

So what is special about Christmas? Well we have invited my son and his family and family friends who would have been spending the day alone, and it will be a roast dinner with each of our guests contributing a dish. Presents? Well the adults have agreed not to follow this tradition of buying each other useless gifts to salve the beast of consumerism. It is a celebration of the end of the year, a coming together to relax and enjoy time with friends, family and people who matter in our life and maybe a walk after lunch.

What has Christmas become?

We are now celebrating a holiday whilst under great pressure to consume. The fat man in a red suit has become the new messiah. The TV overloads our senses with visions of feasts on family tables, sexualised perfume adverts where, if you buy this scent, your partner will miraculously have a six pack/be a skinny model etc. Temptations to buy new this and that or the latest must-have tech gadgets with easy payment plans. The shops heave with children’s presents and Christmas jumpers.

So this is Christmas

Has the message been lost as we seek this expectation of happiness whilst people stride past the homeless in shop doorways and push past the lonely people spending their Christmas by themselves? The pressure to have that happy Christmas can be overwhelming for those alone or with little or no money and the temptation is to turn to credit (which will make next year even harder), when the Christmas treat may be to have the heating on for the day. How many disappointed children will think they have been naughty when they have no presents to open? What happened to the compassion and love of your fellow human being?

So what is Christmas really supposed to be about?

Surely it is foremost a Christian festival celebrating the birth of their Messiah, but less than half of UK residents identify as Christian.

Christmas is about the birth of God’s Son – Jesus. It is about how he came to give us love, hope and joy. That message doesn’t change from year to year.

Let’s take a pause and look into the message this Jesus bloke had for us:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Well, on the census evidence, less than half of us show much interest in the first bit about loving God so what are we left with and what does it mean?

As a socialist, it is pretty simple to comprehend; it is an instruction to think and care for others as you would for yourself or your own family. You would think this would be a normal trait for any human being.

We are each given the opportunity of life and to make the best of it. Life is much nicer if you care for others and share what you have than if you don’t.

Wishing you all a peaceful caring and sharing Christmas.

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