I finally succumbed to temptation earlier this week and ate one of the many mince pies which have been offered at meetings I have attended since before the end of November! Not a huge challenge I know, but in some ways it’s an indicator of how difficult the festive season is – not because we have to resist mince pies, but because everywhere you go there’s a reminder that it’s the run up to Christmas with that somewhat insidious subtext of perfect families, fine food, lots of parties, happy children and gifts for all.
The truth for many is much more painful. We know loneliness is a killer for many, but the bonhomie of the festive season can exacerbate this. Almost 1 million people, the vast majority over 65, will spend this Christmas Day alone. It’s a statistic which tugs at the heartstrings. It’s one of the many reasons Cyrenians are supporting the move by Hibs and Hearts to host a meal on Christmas Day, along with a number of other events in the run up, including a showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on 19th December.
This is brilliant. The powerful message of two rival clubs reaching out together to use their name and gravitas to care for those most excluded is extraordinary and much needed. Yet as Cyrenians Christmas Campaign reminds us, we need to provide #365DaysofSupport for those most excluded. It might seem an obvious thing to say, but it is a necessary reminder of the reality for some every day.
I have always believed it is in caring for the needs of others that our own needs will be met. I suppose in a sense I am admitting that far from working for Cyrenians being an act of altruism, in reality it is an act of self-care as well as care for others. Yet if we believe the work we do thrives in the relationships we create and we know healthy relationships are built on reciprocity, then acknowledging that we get as much as we give from acts of care is simply being cognisant of what makes for good relationships.
In reaching out to others in need we are reaching out to ourselves. To care for those who are isolated is to care for ourselves. We act not in sympathy but empathy and reciprocity, living the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would want them to do to you”. We act not simply so individuals can flourish but so we too can flourish. We share what we have so we too can be fed in body and in soul.
Of course, I know my body doesn’t need any more mince pies, but if in journeying with others not just this Christmas but all year round means my soul is replenished, then perhaps one wee lapse to temptation doesn’t matter!
15th December 2017