One thing that I find myself turning more towards at Christmas, as I’ve got older, is the peace and love of this time of the year, of the joy and hope it brings to many (myself included). In a moment of reflection, I find myself looking around at my life as it currently stands, and feeling lucky to have the life I have, to have all my family healthy, happy and around me.
But this year especially, I have felt this luck and love at a time when, for quite a few, there are many who are struggling one way or another, and who find this time of year in particular difficult, be that with bereavement, anxiety, depression, worry, loneliness, ill health, financial worry and insecurity, or even the security of a roof over their head or knowing where their next meal is coming from.
I wrote a post on here about 18 months ago called ‘Are there good things in the world to think about?‘, partly as a way to express my reaction to a world which, if anything in the time since, seems to have got even worse with all the above problems and further global and political anarchy, and in which I have felt scared, overwhelmed and powerless by. Of course however, turning our thoughts to more simple, trivial pleasures can only be productive to a point.
But equally, it’s hard not to see the constant, ever connected stream of bad news and feel powerless to do something or say anything to help. But the more I’ve thought about it lately, the more I’ve felt that even taking one small positive step to help others could surely encourage others to do the same, so that by engaging with a problem, and getting others to do the same with what times and resources we have, that we can start to be the solution to the problems that wider society faces.
It seems sad that we have become so cynical in this age, that even saying we’ve done something good or have helped out is perceived as ‘humble bragging’. But really, unless we collectively talk and take action about helping others who need help and encouraging those around us to do the same, there seems to be little in the way of positive collective progress forthcoming.
Since 2011, I have volunteered as a fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Care, which, for any international readers, is a fantastic British cancer charity named after the famous scientist, which provides care and support to those with cancer and terminal illness and their families.
On average, I collect for them at their fundraising events at least three or four times a year. I collected for them again for their Christmas appeal on the second weekend of December this year. A lot of people ask what drives me to do it. My dad being diagnosed and making a full recovery from prostate cancer twelve years ago in 2006 is one reason. But I give up my time for them because I want to help and to give something back to make the world that little bit better, and also to help to support a fantastic cause.
When I was little, I remember watching an episode of my favourite TV show, Pingu, called ‘Pingu and the Barrel Organ’. It was a very altrusitic episode, and I’ve included the link to the YouTube video because the message of it had such a profound effect on me, even at the age of 4/5, to look out for others who may be struggling in whatever way. And it still evokes the same reaction in me now.
If we all found it in ourselves to do something small and with what resources and time we had to help others, then all of those added together would do something amazing to bring about real positive change – whether that’s donating food to a food bank, checking in on an elderly neighbour who may be alone, or offering support to a local community project.
And what’s more, I believe that what makes the world turn around, even with all its wider idiosyncrasies, is love, and human compassion. So for anyone who might be reading this, who is struggling in whatever way at this time of year, a big massive hug and love from me to you. And to all of those who may be working in the emergency services, or serving our country and are thus away from loved ones over the festive season, all my thoughts and love are with them too.
Wishing you all a happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas,