Are you physically, morally and emotionally prepared for Christmas?
Here we go again. Christmas. Whether you are looking towards it with excitement or dread, or perhaps a bit of both, you know you are unlikely to emerge at the other side completely unscathed. So here’s a few words to help you enter the fray physically, morally and emotionally prepared.
Saving Christmas with scuseme
Combat loneliness or help the homeless
Have you space at your table for someone who may be on their own? Or find time just to pay them a visit. No one should be lonely and the #5000 reasons launched recently by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough local councils, as well as the Campaign to End Loneliness, set out some of the simple things we can do to support people in our community who may be at risk of loneliness. Or you can make a donation to any of the local charities, perhaps as a gift idea. I spent a year working at Emmaus and realised how easily circumstances can lead someone from a comfortable and secure life to one living on the edge, with no roof, cold, hungry and exposed to violence. There is a human story behind every homeless person. I recently found out about StreetVet. The team of volunteers were fundraising and I was impressed by their cause and passion. The photo shows me – far right with my dogs Sugar and Roscoe – on a memorial walk was in aid of StreetVet Kristina Peters from Village Vet Milton. Kristina recently passed away and she was a great supporter of StreetVet and helped to set up in Cambridge.
Get out and about
You know you have a day ahead of overindulgence, so prepare your soul and your body well. You may worship in church or not at all, or indeed at a different alter; spiritually I leave it up to you. But schedule in a walk at some stage, or perhaps a run if you’re really enthusiastic. I have run to Grantchester for the last few years on Christmas morning. The sloe gin, mulled wine and mince pies at the half way point far outdo the calories I burn off, but the leg stretch gives me a warm feeling all on its own. Some friends of mine walked last year from Cambridge to their relatives in Horningsea for Christmas dinner. What a way to work up an appetite (though I’m not sure if they managed it back again). Here are some of my favourite short Christmas walks:
- Gog Magogs
- Midsummer Common & Jesus Green
- Along the river to Grantchester
- Riverside walk to Stourbridge Common
- Milton Country Park
Recycle and reuse
We could not be made any more aware than we are nowadays of the pressures we are putting on our planet: loss of wildlife, plastic pollution, climate change, poor air quality and pesticides have all competed for top billing over the last year. You can always forgo the frantic materialism of the day, but there might be some pretty sad little faces on Christmas morning. Still, here’s some other things to think about.
- Try to make it a plastic free Christmas in Cambridge. Second hand toys can brush up nicely and you can avoid the copious packaging that manufacturers deem necessary. And if you’re sending stuff in the post, use a shredder to create packaging from waste paper.
- Give your Christmas presents an old fashioned look by using recycled brown parcel paper tied in twine or cloth ribbon. Explore your creative side: add some seasonal greenery and use Christmas cards for tags for beautifully wrapped gifts. Another option is to wrap presents in once loved fabric.
- So many shop assistants still put things in a bag without even asking if you want them to. Make sure you hit the shops armed with your collection of cloth or used carrier bags.
- The kids’ first port of call still seems to be Amazon (and yes it is tempting). But if the crowds seem too daunting, try and shop at the local markets and delis. This year, Nick and I are trying to buy all our presents from local shops, and I know of a few others who are doing likewise.
I can’t remember the last time we had snow on Christmas day. Never in the 22 years I’ve lived in Cambridge, that’s for sure. But there are other ways of finding your Christmas spirit and there is lots of help around. Here are some things to do in Cambridge
- Pop -up Christmas films
- Skating at the North Pole
- Carol services (see my previous blog)
- Visit a pantomime
- Carol singing door to door, preferably with the kids
Minimise waste and donate
As you make space for the new, find a home for the old. Toys and clothes I’m thinking about here, not relatives. When the children were younger we would go through their old toys to make room for the new. We were fortunate to be in that position and we would give the old toys to schools, nurseries, charities and sometimes eBay. But fundamentally knowing another child could love a toy that is pre-loved is satisfying. There’s even a place to donate toys for pets. Use the Chuckit! initiative to give toys to Wood Green animal sanctuary where they are very much appreciated. And of course you can donate food items to the many food banks in and around Cambridge.
Places to donate second hand toys (which must have a CE mark and be in good condition), clothes, games and books etc:
- Addenbrooke’s Pediatric Unit – only clean hard plastic toys in good condition
- British Heart Foundation
- The Police like soft toys, puzzles and books for children caught up in crisis
- Arthur Rank Hospice Charity