The warmest cold time of the year

The camaraderie and love of the dinner table

Comment and Opinion – By Jimmy Rhatigan

CHRISTMAS is always acknowledged as a season of goodwill, camaraderie and family love.

On that score it is perhaps our warmest cold time of the years.

The season is primarily for children and that is wonderful. The delight on the face of a child meeting Santa for the first time or indeed for the fourth, fifth or sixth time is a joy to behold.

With a focus on young people, family units automatically come into play, a family that may not be together at any time during the first 11 months of the year, often celebrate as a unit at Yule.

The latter too is beautiful. It highlights the common bond and loyalty of family members, the joy of parents and children, young and young at heart coming together is perhaps one of the great privileges of our lives.

Without wanting to dwell too much on the commercial side of the festive season, it is good that Santa takes the time to scramble down the chimneys of Ireland and across the world in the early hours of December 25. That is a tradition to treasure.

As we look forward to another celebration, we can be sure that thousands will focus on the religious side of the feast while others may consider the re-uniting of the family unit as one of the great blessings of the entire year.

Our great wish is that all children continue to receive the love and care which they so richly deserve and that the seniors of families, the Matriarchs and Patriarchs also have lots of fun at a time which can be quite emotional for them, for several reasons.

We would dearly love to believe that there won’t be a homeless man or woman sleeping under the stars this December.

That may be too much to ask or even hope for but to think that as a majority of us sit around blazing home hearths before enjoying a traditional dinner, while others snuggle in dirty linen and huddle in doorways in a bid to avoid the woes of winter is simply not acceptable.

It is disgusting and unfair.

We think too of mothers, fathers and children who will spend Christmas in hotel rooms, not because they are members of opulent families who dine out for Yule but because hotels have been home, not so sweet home for them for months or even years as, sadly, they have no homes to go to.

It is not our intention to spread any doom and doom at what after all should be a glorious holiday time.

We simply want to ask those who devote a little time to the less fortunate, neighbours, kith and kin living alone, elderly and ill in remote areas.

It would be great if these great people could be included in the ‘to do’ list as Christmas edges closer.

Any act of Christian love and consideration could be included in a diary with the office party, the shopping expedition and the visits to family members.

If would be marvellous if we could all consider including the line, Remember to visit the old, ill and lonely.

That would be superb and should help us all to savour  even greater happiness and contentment and a truly satisfying end of year holiday time.

In our local community, we are lucky to have great bodies like the Vincent de Paul, the Lions Club and others who do their bit for the less fortunate at Christmas.

And we think of the many times too that local businessman, Ray Brophy has loaded up his jeep with necessities and goodies and driven on icy roads to bring warmth to our senior citizens in remote areas.

That is so heartening. It would be just as easy for Ray to put up his feet after a hectic year of work but that would not be his nature.

Thank God for him and his ilk who, along with our local authorities and others who take up the cudgels and act as guardian angels as they put the Christmas of others before their own celebrations.

Finally we know that Christmas can be quite a testing time for many families. A vacant chair at a dinner table has to be heart-wrenching.

That there are more chairs than people is perhaps an unfortunate fact of life, particularly as our population ages.

It is in that vein that we might consider approaching this Christmas.

Enjoy being with your families, treasure the presence of elderly family or friends in particular.

Reality is that the opportunity to sit down with them this time next year may just not be possible.