Friday, 7 December 2012

It’ll be lonely this Christmas

In three weeks’ time, Christmas will be behind us. The turkey will be gone, the presents will be dotted round the house in perfect piles for tripping over and every relative in the land will have been visited – probably twice. And hopefully we will all have remembered to celebrate the birth of Jesus at some point, too!

One of the saddest things about Christmas, though, is that many people don’t enjoy the perfect festive period the way some do. Many elderly people are completely alone at Christmas having lost loved ones, and a large number are unable to afford all the fancy trimmings. In fact, many struggle to cover basic costs such as heating.

Then there are homeless people, some of whom have to fight to stay alive in blisteringly cold conditions. For whatever reasons, they’ve fallen on hard times and now they are vulnerable to cold, loneliness and violence. Many are struggling with substance abuse.

And having done some work with Bristol International Student Centre (BISC) over the last few months, I’m also aware that a large number of internationals will find themselves alone and away from home come December 25. Imagine being thousands of miles away from your family and friends in a land that is cold and where the food is more than a little strange.

Finally, there are the people whose relationships have suddenly come to an end. Did you know there is usually a flurry of marriage/relationship breakups just before and after Christmas? Maybe it’s the stress of all the preparation, or the fact that couples actually have to spend time together that brings it on… Whichever way you look at it, this can make for an extremely sad and lonely time for the couple involved and for their children, if they have them.

So as you go about your Christmas shopping or plan what to wear to your office party, spare a thought for the people around you that might not be looking forward to Christmas. Is there anything you can do to help?

Maybe you could buy an extra gift for someone who doesn’t have any family around them at this time; a warm blanket for an elderly neighbour, for example. Or perhaps you could make an effort to include that person at work who is having a tough time at home. 

I’m not saying you have to invite every homeless person you meet over for Christmas dinner (although it might be that you could invite someone to share in your family feast), but small gestures can have a massive impact people who are hurting.

Many churches and charities host special services, meals and festive events for those that are alone or in need at Christmas time. Make an effort to find out what’s on offer and get involved. For example, my church has a Christmas hamper project that provides low-income families, single parents and those in sheltered accommodation with a basic meal and some treats on Christmas Day.

This is a great opportunity to share God’s love with people in a practical way. If you really can’t afford to give (and I question whether that is true if you really think about it), give of your time. Offer to help pack up the hampers or to drive them to where they need to go.

Don’t just turn up the Christmas tunes and zone everything else out. We remember at Christmas that God gave everything He had for us – His own Son – so let’s be prepared to give generously to others at this special time of year. 

Read more from Joy in the upcoming issue of Sorted magazine - out soon! There's still time to buy a gift subscription for that special man in your life...


  1. I am alone, I am not elderly , alone and have to work on christmas with people who do not speak my language, its a tough day to get thru. :(

    1. I'm so sorry to hear that. From personal experience, joining a church is a great way to meet new people. I've been 'adopted' by churches across the UK and met some incredible people. I don't know much about your situation, but I do hope and pray you will find comfort at what can be a difficult time of year.