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More Notes from The Orchard for December 2019


Today, for the first time, I realised that this year I haven’t really enjoyed organising presents.  It is the first time I have been unable to drive and get round on my own.  I haven’t seen enough of my family and friends over the year which has gone by too quickly and hasn’t given me enough time to spend with  them, listening to what they say and watching how they lives are going, how their interests are growing.

I realise that over the years I was accustomed to doing all those things and when occasions arose all through the year I would buy what I hoped would be just right as a Christmas present for the individual person.


This year is very different and that is true not only for me but for many.  In the United Kingdom the major elephant in the room has a name beginning with the letter B which has unsettled us all.   We have seen countries using what democratic rights they have – some countries have a well-developed system of using these while others are taking poorly constructed notions of democracy to express their dissatisfaction with the ruling elements of their countries, from schoolchildren via university students to pensioners.  Other factors, from women’s rights, poverty and insufficient housing to terrorism and gang violence on our streets, the prevalence of the ‘Me, Me, Me’ ethic to the dawning realisation that the consumer style of life and climate change is consigning our dear planet, its people and the animals we profess to love, towards the downward slope that ends in extinction.


Walking around the shops – all desperate to sell their goods and pay their staff – the goods on sale are relatively expensive, tawdry and unnecessary.  They will do little more than add to the ‘stuff’ many of us realise that we now need to bin somewhere before we drown in it.  So much stuff these days contains plastic we are now learning that vast amounts of jettisoned items now end up in our oceans. . . What are we going to do to improve matters?


I plan to have a second ‘Notes’ up and running before Christmas in the hope that the real spirit of Christmas will have enveloped me by then.  I think this will only be achieved by prayer, sending charity gifts instead of tangible ones, remembering that I have birthdays coming up for a daughter, her husband, a grandson and a son before 25th December, all of whose presents are already purchased.  Then I shall be free to worry about whether their parcels have any chance of being delivered via our striking Royal Mail service. . . The charity ones can be sent via the internet.  The one I am looking forward to most is the one that organises birth certificates for children in San Salvador (www.toybox.org.uk) When this is done it gives a child the right to health care, shelter and education among many other benefits.  It’s well worth looking at their website.

Do you know, I feel better already!                                                                  


Just in case I don’t manage to get my brighter  ‘Notes’ up before Christmas I will wish you all the very best of God’s gifts to you and yours right now.




Sarah Bell

Deer in New Forest