There’s always a lot going on across our communities in the run up to Christmas. Carol services, Christmas lights, office parties and ringing shop tills are the face of Christmas today. But there’s also a hidden side of Christmas. My former colleague Jo Cox drew attention to loneliness, not just at Christmas but particularly at Christmas. Calling in on your neighbour would be in the spirit of Christmas. Snow falling as a Salvation Army Band plays carols may be part of a Christmas scene, less obvious is the important work the Salvation Army does to keep the homeless warm and fed. Many church members can be seen organising church services, but maybe not noticed as much when volunteering at a foodbank or as Street Pastors.
USDAW’s excellent “Keep Your Cool” campaign reminds us that queues in shops may be frustrating but that’s no excuse for being uncivil or even threatening to hardworking shop workers. Also feeling the pressure are the police, firefighters, doctors, nurses and council gritters for whom Christmas is just another working day and another day when public sector workers feel undervalued and facing cutbacks. So there is another face of Christmas and it’s not Bah Humbug to point it out.
Enjoy the festivities but let’s also celebrate the strength of our local community. And don’t forget the Boxing Day Pudding Run on the Links organised by North Shields Polytechnic and raising money for Woodlawn School, a great cause.