In what was intended to be a helpful timely guide – how to make your own Christmas hamper we offered suggestions as to selecting small personal gifts that people would actually be pleased to receive. Thoughtful Christmas giving can take many forms – charity gifts, home made presents, vouchers – and of course hard cash.

Christmas Gifts – Give them money

I have suggested to my family that someone go to the bank and get a 500 Euro bank note (do they still have them or have the panicking Spanish hoarded them under their mattresses?) and all the adults stand in a circle and pass the bill around. The next day or so the original buyer of the note deposits it back in to his account. Now when asked by friends what they got they can say “A 500 Euro Note” or if asked what they spent for gifts “500 Euros.”

charity christmas cards letter-box

Charity Christmas Cards

The postal strike aside (anyone actually noticed) it is the perfect time of year to pretend to keep in touch with those far far away by sending Christmas cards.

Again this is an opportunity to support charity by buying and sending your favourite organisations cards. Beware though as not all charity Christmas cards are not all equal – those on sale in high street department stores sometime only give up a teeny proportion of the spent to charity – best to buy direct from the organisation themselves.

Christmas Card Scenes

I read recently on the Guardian a string of comments suggesting that Christmas card scenes were out of touch with the modern world – and should depict ordinary people in the city doing their work surrounded by pollution blackened snow.

You in that there London should get out more! Where I live we are surrounded by idyllic country lanes leading to peaceful village churches, pheasants running around everywhere you look, wayside inns with crackling open fires, frozen ponds, etc. And this is accessible from central London by rail. Take a train, live a little!

And yes, of course Christians chose the pagan festival of Solstice to celebrate the light of our lives, but only because the symbolism is about the same thing – light out of darkness, hope out of despair, spiritual riches defeating material poverty etc. Okay, so it’s all a bit of a myth about the stable and stuff, but all myths point to deep truths that resonate within all of us and I challenge anyone born in England to say that their heart isn’t secretly warmed by all that guff, Christian or not.

I love sending Christmas cards and receiving them – were it not for this tradition I’d have no excuse to say an out of the blue hi to people who I have a lifetime’s affection for and a wish to keep in touch…but no real reason to go and visit at this stage in my life.