It's 23rd December, but for some reason, I don't feel especially Christmassy yet. I've wrapped my presents, we've had the big Christmas Jumper run at parkrun (also my 50th parkrun)...
...and I've sung in my big Christmas concert at Nottingham's Albert Hall in front of hundreds of people; I even got a really excellent secret santa present at work this year, with a little pack that included some homemade blackcurrant jam...but I just haven't got the feeling yet. I like Christmas too, so this is something of a disappointment.
I think part of it is that I haven't finished work yet - I'm in-store on Christmas Eve - and I'm working between Christmas and New Year too; maybe the unseasonably warm weather also has something to do with it; maybe too it's the fact that I haven't listened to as much seasonal music as I usually do because I've been so busy listening to my choir rehearsal tracks. Who knows? Maybe it's all of these things.
Well, whether I'm feeling it or not, Christmas is almost here.
As is now traditional at this time of year, as I sign-off for the festive period, I make a donation to a charity in the name of everyone who takes the time to read any of the nonsense that I write here throughout the year. This year, thinking back to the things that have fired me up the most over the last few months, I've chosen to make that donation to Refugee Action. They're a fantastic charity who provide emergency food and shelter to asylum seekers and refugees, they provide legal support to asylum seekers, they support the refugees resettled in the UK by the UNHCR... well, it seemed like a worthy and appropriate cause to support.
As the charity themselves say on their donation page, £30 will give vital advice and emotional support to families in distress, £60 could provide a refugee family with a room for the night, warm clothes and a hot meal and the £100 that I donated could help ten survivors learn English. This was in the charity's thank-you email:
Mohammed escaped persecution in Eritrea and eventually made the dangerous journey to Greece in a rubber dingy from Turkey. He came to the UK because he already spoke English, and was granted refugee status. “I love the UK,” he says. “I feel like a human here. I’m treated with dignity and respect regardless of my religion or race. I can speak without restrictions. I never knew what freedom meant before, but now I am free". To the people of the UK he says: “Thank you for the safety, respect and values you share with refugees. Thank you for sharing with us your shelter, food, time, thoughts and smiles.”
Long may we continue to be that kind of country.
Compliments of the season to you all. Wherever you are, I hope you are safe and happy and with the people you love.
Speak to you on the other side.