As the 1951 Meredith Willson song made famous by Bing Crosby says, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Trees are being purchased, over eager people are putting up the decorations and carols are being pumped through the sound systems of shopping malls.
Another sign the big day is coming is data released by the Salvation Army which reminds us Christmas is not a time of good cheer and celebration for many in the community.
In fact, it’s often a time of great stress.
The Salvos do a lot of great work. One of the best things it does is shed light on the other side of the festive season, which can be a lonely place full of anguish and despair.
Some of the figures its survey reveals will take the twinkle off the tinsel:
Approximately half a million children under 10 are likely to receive no presents this Christmas.
Christmas is a “financial nightmare” for 8.4 million Australians.
Some 12.2 million Australians know people who will be lonely this Christmas.
Christmas will leave 1.8 million Australians in worrying debt.
Absolutely heartbreaking is the number of people who will not share Christmas with friends or family.
The survey found 852,000 Australians “almost always” feel lonely at Christmas while a further 1.1 million “often feel lonely”.
There’s more but you get the picture.
The Salvos do what they can to help those in need – both financially and socially – during the holiday season.
The Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal is designed to help families in crisis at least get a taste of the joy Christmas brings to those more fortunate.
It presents an opportunity for all of us to spread around the cheer most of us will enjoy – to share in the true spirit of Christmas which has been eroded over time by mass marketing and consumerism.
Planning Christmas gatherings? Think about including neighbours and associates who might be socially isolated or lonely. Reaching out can often be the best gift for someone who otherwise would spend the season alone.
We thank the Salvation Army for reminding us of the hardship out there. We believe it important we spare not just thought but cash and kindness for those who are left behind at Christmas. Our wish is that we share the season’s goodwill.