I took this picture yesterday. It is one of Brown Thomas’s windows in Dublin City. You will see the writing at the bottom left says ‘possibilities’. To me there is drama in the photo, a space woman and her space pod surrounded by baubles or mini planets, but isn’t she fabulous. The possibilities for her starting somewhere new, starting something new, are endless, if she is brave enough to try.
At this time of year, as Christmas approaches, we may all take time to reflect on the year behind us. The hopes and dreams that were realised, the gains and the losses we have experienced, the paths we did not intend to take, but took nevertheless and the new goals and wishes we intend to set for ourselves as we step into the next new year.
I love the idea of Christmas. I love the twinkle and sparkle of the lights, the decorations, the shop windows, the excitement of children looking forward to Santa. The reality of Christmas though, is often a stark contrast what we perceive it to be or believe it should be.
As I walked along the streets in Dublin, where decorations adorned the buildings, cardboard and makeshift beds, with damp sleeping bags lay in an alcove, or by a railing, tucked to the side, to be used later in the day and night.
Where some people were busking and demonstrating their many talents, others were sitting, despondent and defeated, holding out a cup, in the hope of getting a few coins.
I wondered where both cohorts would sleep that night. How warm, how comfortable, how joyous or how full of dread they would be, heading into the Festive season or whether it would be just another day rolling into the other for them.
It is a season of conflict, a season of extremes. For some children there will be no Santa on Christmas morning, no food, no comfort, no warmth, but instead deep sadness, loneliness, perhaps fear and despair and wondering why Santa had again, forgotten about them and not called to their home.
Each year many children telephone Childline, for numerous different reasons and this is a critical support for children of all ages. Most of Childline’s funding comes from fundraising and donations from the generosity of ordinary people like you and me. I once organised a fundraiser for them and raised almost a thousand euro, and the event I organised was fun and interactive and the people who came had a great time and were very generous with their donations.
Barnardos, the ISPCC, Make a wish, Jack and Jill to name but a few more charities that actively support disadvantaged and sick children, could not do it without the help and generosity of us, joe blogs, by donating money, goods, our time etc etc. The possibilities are endless when we come together, seek out, dig deep and remember that so many of us are more fortunate than others, and at this time of year, especially, seek out what can we do to help those less fortunate.
Times are tough, and some people may just want a listening ear, or a call to see if they are OK. Christmas is, after all, about giving. Even giving someone a hug or a compliment can make their day.
It may be someone’s first Christmas without a loved one, and they may be struggling with that, knowing their future will never be quite the same. I understand that feeling, having lost my dad and best friend withing 6 months of each other. It is tough. What can we do for people who have suffered loss? We can just try to be kind and understanding and offer hope and our presence, that is often the best present someone can receive.
Like the spacewomen entering her new phase, starting out somewhere new, or something new, it doesn’t have to feel or be hopeless, it can be hopeful, exciting, curious, but it has to start with what she will seek out, what she will try, what she will surrender to and what she can offer. It is often in the offering and giving, that the greatest joy is felt.
‘Good will to all men (women and children)’, is the best way for ‘the season to be jolly’. We cannot fix everyone’s problems, but for those of us who can, we should try to give what we can to those who need it most.