Eating a little bit of Christmas…



This is a re-post from here.

The Christmas advertisements are already being shown on TV- something that most of us will have complained about. The money machine is limbering up…

But if we want to do something differently, then we too will need to make some preparations.

It is my conviction that although most of us love to celebrate Christmas, we do not feel in control of what happens to us each year. It comes at us like a massive snowball rolling down the hill, gathering all in it’s path. Bigger and bigger.

The controlling factors that result in our powerlessness are complex, but I think some of these things have been part of our experience-

  • Collective momentum- none of us are immune from the power of advertising, particularly when all around us people shop till they drop.
  • Making it special- and because of our consumer driven context, this means more consumption. More shiny stuff for the kids, and more booze and gadgets for the adults.
  • Busyness- most of us simply lack the head space to think our way into a different way of doing things. It is all we can do just to go with the flow.
  • Obligation- present buying is a socially stressful activity. Getting the right balance between cost/quirkyness/suitability is a pressure for more of us. This is because we value our friends, and do not want to give offence. Remember those awful moments when someone gives you a present and you realise you have not given them one? Do you keep ‘spare’ presents just in case this happens?
  • Lack of viable alternatives- what else would we do? Faced with this, we reluctantly end up just doing the same.

All this suggests to me that if we want to change our approach to Christmas, we have to make plans well in advance.

We will need to negotiate/discuss with our family and our friends. It might mean different solutions for different groups.

We are part of a community called Aoradh– and last night, we made a start towards our different kind of Christmas.

Sarah (our 11 year old super-chef) had baked cupcakes. At the base of each cake was a name, revealed as we ate. Later on we will eat another meal together, and exchange gifts only with the person whose name we drew.

The rules are- gifts can be something you have made, or a promise for the new year (babysitting, grass cutting, chest waxing or whatever) or if you need to buy something then that is fine, but you must spend little.

Will this be less special? Will our community be showing less love and committment to one another? I rather think the opposite- it has already been a means of bringing us closer, having fun- and of course, eating together. We do a lot of that…

Some incense, a black box, and friendship…

Last night our little housegroup met. It was nothing out of the ordinary- there will be small groups of people meeting like this all over the country. But this one was special- because it was mine.

We sat round the fire, and read stories about the coming of light. We sang, and ate food.

Then we shared gifts.

We had one of those ‘secret Santa’ things where each of us drew a name from a hat, and had to buy a gift for £2, and write a blessing for them.

Mine was simply brilliant. It was a gift for both Soul and Spirit.

For the soul- a little box of frankincense, along with some charcoal and an account of the uses of incense in the Bible. It is just the right sort of gift for me, from a dear creative friend who knows me well and it made me cry.

For the Spirit, a little black box, labelled ‘Chris’s survival kit’ containing 10 cards that made me laugh out loud.

Here is a sample-

(The last one is a little reference to my little swim last February!)


This made me smile- toilet twinning…

My mate Simon told me about this the other day- in response to a conversation about alternative Christmas presents…

Toilet Twinning-

International charities Cord and Tearfund have linked up to bring you Toilet Twinning: a unique way to help transform lives in poor communities across the world.

Since the launch of Toilet Twinning in 2008, more than 1,500 latrines have been built in Burundi – providing safe loos for at least 9,000 people! So… squat’s it all about?

There’s a serious message here though-

up a stink

It’s out of order! 1 in 3 people across the world don’t have somewhere safe to go to the toilet. Bad sanitation is one of the world’s biggest killers: it hits women, children, old and sick people hardest. Every minute, three children under the age of five die because of dirty water and poor sanitation. And, right this minute, around half the people in the world have an illness caused by bad sanitation.

Women and girls suffer most

In Africa, half of young girls who drop out of school do so because they need to collect water – often from many miles away – or because the school hasn’t got separate toilets for boys and girls. Not having a loo puts people at risk of being bitten by snakes as they squat in the grass and makes women and girls a target for sexual assault as they go to the toilet in the open.

Big job

We must do what we can to make a difference.

Providing people with clean water and basic sanitation is one of the most cost-effective ways to release people from poverty: for every £1 spent on water and sanitation, £8 is returned through saved time, increased productivity and reduced health costs.

Missing the target

In 2000, 189 countries from across the world signed up to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The plan was that we’d all work together to end extreme poverty by 2015. But little action means some targets will be missed by DECADES. If we carry on like this, it’s predicted we won’t hit the sanitation target in sub-Saharan Africa until the 23rd century.

So if anyone wants to buy us a toilet twin for our downstairs loo, I will forever more poo with pride!