On my daughter's first Christmas, my husband Gregor and I discussed Santa. Do we? Don't we? For him, the decision was easy - we can play all the games, but we don't have to actually tell our daughter Santa is real. I thought this sounded reasonable. But part of me was torn. Would we be denying our daughter the magic of Christmas?
They're there throughout the year and we often don't know they're there. They are battles beneath skin. They live in those we love. They sometimes live within us. There are times and situations in which they can become amplified to an almost intolerable point. I am referring to mental health issues.
"Do you welcome those who celebrate a non religious Christmas?" I ask Reverend Sue Powell, "even world famous atheist Richard Dawkins has spoken of his love for this holiday"
Hating Christmas is exhausting and just as tiresome and clichéd as all the constantly replayed songs, and yet loving it seems like a chore all the same. When you are brought up as a Jehovah's Witness, the world of Christmas festivities looks very different.
I am finally expecting a baby in February after almost four years of battling infertility and IVF treatments. Despite being so close to my goal of being a mother I have not forgotten for one second the pain that I have endured to get here. I especially cannot forget how much more intense that pain was at Christmastime.
The start of December marks a mass exodus of students from university. We are flung to various outposts, some local and some rather exotic as our colleges send us packing; eagerly anticipating the lucrative conference and holiday crowds.
It's the age old question that parents have to face up to every year: will my kid(s) have enough presents to open on Christmas Day. How much is enough we ponder? And will they like them? We try to get that balance right between fun toys and educational toys. As the cash registers tick over we will be tempted to throw caution to the wind heading home with bags full of goodies.
Christmas seems to get longer every year. I noticed that shopping-channel BidTV started flogging Christmas decorations in September... As the build-up gets bigger and bigger, by the time it eventually comes around, the intensity is so excessive that it could never be as good as you'd hoped.
Before meeting my other half I spent the best part of five years navigating the peaks and troughs of single life and know all too well the pain and pleasure of flying solo on special occasions. Here are some of my tips on how I enjoyed, made the most of and kept my sanity/perspective in check at Christmas and many other special occasions.
Across the world thousands of animals may be given as Christmas gifts. Many of them are later dumped when the responsibilities of pet ownership become too much or when they stop being cute.
Mulled wine, Champagne, party punch, even the puddings come fuelled with your favourite tipple; booze can be unavoidable at Christmas time. So unavoidable that alcohol consumption goes up by 40% in the UK in December, 'tis the season to be jolly and all that, but this seems like a lot.
Improving just one of these areas for low income families will make a huge difference towards helping lift children out of the poverty trap. Skint asks players to help Barnardo's tackle childcare costs for the poorest. It's a good start.
The enduring success of All I Want For Christmas Is You should not be a surprise. Whether because of Mariah's iconic video (frolicking in the snow, wearing her Santa-themed micro dress), the recording's upbeat joyfulness or the timeless quality (even though it was produced and written by Mariah with Walter Afanasieff), the track has something for everyone.
The Big Issue is still revolutionary. That is quite something for a magazine launched 22 years ago. In 1991 John Bird and the Body Shop's Gordon Roddick set about providing the homeless, those at risk of losing their home and those at the very margins of society with a legitimate means of making a living. This has remained the constant ever since.
A surge in online sales this September saw Britain hailed by the UK press as the 'internet shopping capital of the world'. The proclamation was made after a rise in monthly online shopping sent an array of retail records tumbling.
I recently went to a talk by a psychologist on how to parent teenagers... she said that kids today have never had a greater sense of their rights and entitlements. Correct. On the other hand, she said, they've never had less sense of their responsibilities. Also correct. Now the gift of a goat for someone in Sierra Leone or reading lessons for a kid in Kenya isn't going to change any of that, but it will do no harm, and it'll do nothing but good for those who receive these gifts in far-off places of which our kids know little. And these gifts really do make a difference. Trust me, I went to Guatemala and El Salvador with the charity Cafod to see it with my own eyes.