For many, the holiday season can be as much a challenge as a celebration…

If all the build up to Christmas is to be believed, Christmas should be a most magical and wonderful time. Scores of songs are dedicated to it, while shop tills (and online) ring joyfully like the chimes of a million sleigh bells. The commercialisation of Christmas suggests that material rather than spiritual matters dominate but amidst the chaos and activity, people from all backgrounds and faiths embrace the holidays as a chance for families and friends to come together. Even if, in some cases, a conventional religious belief has declined, perhaps a more abstract concept of Christmas spirit can still bring everyone together. But while it can be a unifying and happy time, many of us may struggle to feel the Christmas cheer…

Holiday Blues

For all the good vibes, the holidays can bring huge challenges. Wall-to-wall advertising puts all kinds of expensive ideas and pressure on those who can ill-afford to pay their bills. Expansive feasting demands can lead to unbalanced budgets and possibly a recipe for New Year bankruptcy. When Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, he introduced the impossibly cheerful Cratchit family, but for all their appreciation of the Christmas spirit, they still needed the helping hand of the reformed moneylender Ebenezer Scrooge to put a goose on the table for the big day. Fast-forward to this century and the perils of credit from massive financial organisations can allow us to repent at leisure after spending beyond our means. On a practical note, sources like moneysavingexpert.com are well worth consulting for sensible advice – and their useful related links – for avoiding the modern version of the poorhouse.

Money worries may be a widespread problem, but the absence of a family to spend money on can be even harder to bear. Many – like a repentant Scrooge with his ghostly guides – observe the imagined feasts of others from outside the window. The loneliness of the bereaved or estranged can make Christmas a tough time to endure – as it can be for those far from home. Such folk may be sitting across your desk, next to you on the bus or living down your hallway.

For those with a surplus of Christmas spirit, many organisations exist to help spread support and kindness. For example, the Salvation Army runs a Christmas present appeal that distributes gifts to those unable to keep pace with the Christmas juggernaut. What you don’t need can be passed on to those struggling to cover the basics. Repackaging unwanted presents to deserving homes is one way to giveback. Amongst the links below are options to donate blood or blankets, or even buy a goat! And with over 320,000 Britons now without homes, organisations like Shelter and Crisis are keen to attract volunteers to help over Christmas and through the year, along with accepting donations to expand their services.

Post Family Fatigue (PFF) can also strike many down in the cold, dark days following Christmas! Symptoms often include guilt, angst and a strange return of insecurities and

frustrations not felt since early childhood. Fear not, this is quite normal. While turkeys slowly roast, old tensions can brew and simmer beyond the kitchen, before the day’s festivities and mulled wine can cause them to boil over.

So, whatever Christmas has traditionally meant to you, it is never too late to reach out to others for help and support or to offer some help and support. Here are some useful Yuletide links. Our very best wishes for the Holidays.

Useful Yuletide links

www.shelter.org.uk

www.crisis.org.uk

www.samaritans.org

www.salvationarmy.org.uk

www.moneysavingexpert.com/deals/charity-gifts