Notes from the Orchard - December 2017


More Notes from The Orchard – 49 (1)

December 2017


It’s surprising how often, even when talking to Christians, or perhaps to people who say they are Christians, that when Christmas comes to the fore the usual comment has very little to do with the Christian story.  


“Oh, I hate Christmas!  It’s alright for the children, lovely for them. . .But it’s got so commercial! . . . And it’s so difficult to get everything done – and so expensive! . . .  I’ll be glad when it’s all over!. . .and I’ll bet I’ll have another 3 inches round the waist by the end of it!”


This year the celebration of Christmas seems to be so closely connected to the Northern forests and their elegant fauna one really has to wonder what on earth it’s all about.  There’s hardly a sign anywhere of a religious base to the whole concept and so much talk of food!


Even the charities are in there, scrambling for their share of the money spent at Christmas.  It is obviously a good idea to spread some of the public’s largesse among those who are lacking in any of the goods of this world but what does their share amount to?  According to various statistics available on the internet the British don’t do at all badly compared with other European countries when it comes to charitable giving.  So far, so good!  However in Britain we spend practically twice as much as other European countries on spending money at Christmas time.  However, I haven’t been able to find how much we spend on charity at Christmas in relation to other countries although it appears charity giving tends to drop in December.


Charity spending isn’t a very big part of people’s outlay.  It seems that people generally prefer to give to charity if they think there’s a chance that they too will benefit.  Those with less money often prefer to give to charity via a lottery or when there’s a chance they might win at least something.  Rich people seem to prefer spending money for charity pretty much on the same grounds though on a grander scale, such as mingling with celebrities or dining and dancing at a prestigious restaurant or function.  The very rich seem to be happy to give away money for altruistic reasons . . . although there are some who don’t seem to mind  enjoying any publicity for so doing!


There is an increasing move towards getting rid of ‘stuff’ as we look round our houses and see all the clothes we never wear hanging up and falling apart doing nothing in our wardrobes, shoes that live under beds and rarely worn…How much of the stuff we have in the house do we really need?  Have we talked to anyone lately involved in the arduous task of house-clearing after a bereavement?  Mmmmm…. Do we really need to lumber our friends with any more stuff? What about, if for just one year, we gave all the jolly Christmas money to charity, sat back with our feet up?  OK, we may find ourselves falling into the trap of feeling smug, but it could leave quite a few people feeling less cold, less hungry and at least a bit loved.  One of my favourite charities is run by the Salvation Army, ‘Crisis at Christmas’.  Then there’s St. Martin in the Fields near the National Gallery in London; there’s Cardinal Hume Centre (020 7222 1602) which caters for young homeless in London, there’s Emmaus – just look them up on the internet and there are many more. . .


But wait: do make sure your own family isn’t in want before you go supporting the entire world!  If anyone needs to go short before you attend to the world, you are the one who needs to go without:  you know best what you really don’t need!


There will be a Christmassy edition of Notes for the Main Day and in the meantime here are some Notes from my friend in America for Advent, which starts on Sunday, 3rd December.



Sarah Bell

© Katy Bell