For many years I was married to the most wonderful Spaniard, Laura, and she is the most incredible mother to our three children. I am thankful for these gifts, more than any others.
The Spanish celebrate Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is more ‘the morning after the night before’ and, in fact, gifts are traditionally only given on 6 January, the day of the three Kings. If you subscribe to the whole Christian ‘thing’, then you would know they didn’t arrive on the day of his birth. Christmas in Spain is therefore far less about gift giving and far more a time for families to gather. And eat.
But then the Spanish do that almost every day — it’s part of the joy of the Spanish way of life.
Truth be told, I’m not religious and, truth be known, we now spend Christmas in London. Having separated and divorced a number of years ago, I tend to do two things on the eve before Christmas. I head out early evening with a pocket full of cash and walk several miles looking for those whom need a little help. It is remarkable the people you’ll meet when you take the time to stop and chat to those that are homeless or struggling to make ends meet. In fact, I’ve learnt that a conversation is often more valuable than a little financial assistance. No one in the 21st century should still be sleeping rough in any ‘developed’ country. We have hundreds of empty buildings across our cities and yet we (and the state, to whom we pay such large amounts of tax to look after those in need) allow citizens to lay their heads on concrete sidewalks and in shop entrances every night. A few kind words on Christmas Eve can go a long way to those whom we try desperately hard not to see and not to talk to.
I also tend to host dinner at home the night before Christmas. London is a wonderful city with residents from across the globe. Many are away from their families and so an invitation that night can make a real difference to friends and acquaintances whom would otherwise be sitting wishing they were elsewhere. Reach out to those you know and may have no plan, and ask them to join you.
Finally, I encourage you to consider not only the people around you but think of those in harm’s way. Those that are in a position you hope never to be in. This year, again I will support MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), which has, as a private initiative, quite literally plucked more than 33,000 people from the Mediterranean Sea. No human wishes to be a refugee. And no parent would willingly want to put themselves in a position of trying to keep their children’s heads above water. These are desperate people in a dire situation. They deserve our help.
Give of your time to those you love and that are near to you. Give of your wealth to those you may not know but that others are trying to save.