Loving kindness, 365 days a year

21_december_2014A letter a day to number 10. No 952

Sunday 21 December 2014.

Dear Mr Cameron,

As we enter Christmas week this is, for me, a moment of reflection. I decided to stop doing Christmas about ten years ago but it was a far from easy process. The first thing to go was the Christmas cards, that was tough, the little guilt stabs as cards came through the door, the feelings of obligation, the kill joy Scrooge moments of self doubt and letting the side down and a niggling sense of betrayal of family, friends and loved ones. That ol’ tricksy season of goodwill was loaded and you don’t realise just how loaded till you decide to stop.

There followed five years of seasonal anger at the sheer scale of the onslaught from literally everywhere, the crazy commercialisation being but one teeth grinding intrusion, and, to be honest, being angry about it is just the same as indulging it, same treadmill, different response. Hardly victory.

The next four years was about learning to let it be, walk through it but let it wash round me, avoid silly times on roads and in supermarkets, to discover Christmas day really was just another day and with no new year debt to blight the winter cold. This year has given rise to some wry moments when asked what I am doing for Christmas and I respond, ‘Nothing’, several people have asked, ‘But what are you doing for Christmas day?’, I gave each of them a little look and they sort of spluttered for a moment then chuckled with me. It’s only a big deal if I make it a big deal, but if it isn’t for me it isn’t for them either.

Christmas, like so much else, is just an idea, a mind set; powerful though it may be it’s not written in stone, it’s only the holy writ of tradition and advertisers who say, ‘Thou must celebrate Christmas and buy heaps of stuff’. Resistance is not futile.

There are special moments like the William IV Pub, in Shepherdess Walk, Islington this year, opening it’s doors to the homeless today (21st) for a free roast dinner in an act of wanton kindness (with 4,000 people re-tweeting the message and many more offering to volunteer). Were you not wedded to your war on the poor, you could learn a thing or two from such kindness, but such lessons are available 365 days a year in which acts of routine kindness and generosity are the rule rather than the exception, where you and your government are the exception and certainly not the rule. A season of good will is pretty offensive when you really think about it, as fake as Christmas.


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