Commerce not spirit of 'great Christmas'

BRIAN GULL MANAGER BREAD OF LIFE TRUST, BLENHEIM
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2013

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What makes a really Great Christmas?

I would not want you to think of me as the Christmas Grinch, so please read this whole article before forming an opinion!

What is the face of Christmas today?

The business world would have it that we need to spend, spend, spend, otherwise it simply is not Christmas! We can thank the best marketing company in the world for that, Coca-Cola, who brought the jolly face of the Santa we know into being in 1932. The rest of the commercial world jumped on the band wagon and has now almost completely captured the "Spirit of Christmas".

Sadly, many families get caught up in this hyper marketing and end up needing financial and other aid in the New Year.

Children are overwhelmed with ill-afforded gifts, many of which will hardly be used and large amounts of money are spent on liquor to fuel the party.

Christmas is a time when we record the highest rate of depression and suicide. Agencies such as the Bread of Life in Blenheim have a marked increase in clients with counselling and other needs.

As alcohol and drug use increases, family violence is more prevalent and we see a higher number of alcohol-related road accidents.

So what makes a "Great Christmas"?

In the days before credit cards and overdrafts were handed out like popcorn, families had to be really innovative. Not everybody had the means to spend. Many gifts were hand-made, as were Christmas cards. Much thought and love was given into each item produced. Planning for Christmas would begin months before.

Dads would be out in the shed, Mums would be knitting and crafting and there was always the fun of finding hiding places for presents under construction. Each gift was very personal. Store-bought was almost unheard of and being together was all important.

The guest list for Christmas dinner was carefully put together, as was the menu. Baking and preparation was a family affair with much hilarity in the kitchen weeks before the event.

Decorations for the tree and home were generally handmade, often by the children.

Thought was given to those without. Parcels were made up by the community for them and strangers invited to the family table. Above all, the real meaning of Christmas was observed with people from all walks of life attending carol singing, school plays and churches to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

It is easy to be caught up with the "commercial Christmas", yet much more

meaningful, fulfilling and fun to have a "Great Christmas" without the stress.

Please remember the many families and children that have little hope of a joyful Christmas and make an effort to make a difference for them too.

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All of us at Bread of Life and Hope House Trusts wish you a blessed Christmas and New Year.

- The Marlborough Express

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