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The Spirit of Christmas Ain't Just a Liqueur

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Christmas... it's not just for children; the true spirit of Christmas is about peace and love. So, with that in mind, I'm not going to offer you style inspiration, this year, on how to make your winter wonderland look even more enchanting, I'd like to give you something else to think about, something - dare I say it - more important.

While we all dash about madly, panic-buying last minute presents for our nearest and dearest, how many of us think about the true meaning of love at this busy time of year? And I don't just mean our nearest and dearest. As we're decorating the tree, plugging in the fairylights, worrying we have overspent again, there are people, within a hop, skip and jump of us all, who don't have a home, let alone the fairylights or won't have a meal or any company on Christmas day while everyone else is celebrating. Just like you and me, they want some cheer.

Random acts of kindness

There are kind souls who like to do a good turn for someone, such as those on the Confetti Forum who started the RAOK - the Random Acts of Kindness thread where anyone can give something just to make someone's day.

It's easy to not think about the homeless who are hungry and the elderly who may be cold and lonely. We can be forgiven for not thinking about them all the time, as they're not a part of our everyday lives, as our families are. We tell ourselves 'it's not my problem' and we try to justify it, but we're all human beings and what I've heard from my one-on-one discussions with homeless men and women is that the only real difference between those without a home and those with, is purely circumstantial. Many had jobs, homes and marriages and have lost everything and ended up with nowhere to go. Some have mental health problems, others have drug and alcohol problems, many have a combination like so many of us with homes and families too!

So what can we do?

One way to help, without even parting with any cash, is to give a little of your time, by volunteering to help out in a café feeding the homeless, for instance. It's easy to give up one evening a month that you would otherwise spend sitting in front of the TV and you'll know that you're making a real difference to people's lives. I do this in Bristol, and it's always a good evening for so many reasons. If this sounds like something you'd like to find out more about, go to Do-It- Volunteering Made Easy. You don't need any skills to work in a café, you can even help just by washing dishes or making a donation to help keep the café running. I love talking to the people who eat at, and volunteer at, the Wild Goose Café where I help out - they have some amazing stories to tell and I find a night in the 'real world' puts all of my perceived problems firmly back into perspective. So, in a sense I get something from it too. Now it's cold at night, it's more important than ever for people with no homes to be able to come into the warm and have a hot meal. You'd need help if you were in that position, I know I would.

This year I'm also taking part in a scheme I heard about through Vintage Community Church in Portishead, (who have joined up with Alliance Housing) to offer a Christmas meal to a local elderly person who will be on their own at Christmas. I'm cooking for seven this year so an extra plate of food is easy to serve up and I'll deliver it to them on Christmas day, complete with a cheesy "Merry Christmas!" and a smile.

Have a wonderful Christmas. Peace and love to all.

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