Lyn Brown

Member of Parliament for West Ham

Christmas 2010

Christmas has, once again, been and gone..  I bought the majority of my presents, most of them on-line as usual, put up a few decorations and just about sent out all my Christmas cards in time for the last post.

We hand delivered a few and it seemed such a good idea a couple of weeks ago, but thenthe snow came and really complicated matters no end.

Christmas is a time that I always look forward to.  I love the carols, pantos and the time I spend with my family and friends.  One of the things I am sure many of us enjoy is to see the excitement and joy on a child's face when they tear the wrapper off a present.

Christmas is a time when many of us try to do something for someone else.  This year I was encouraged by the children of St Luke's primary school to put together a Christmas shoebox for a child in a country that has been torn apart by famine, war or natural disasters.  They arrange for a great number of Christmas boxes to be given to The Samaritans, ready for distribution across the world.

We may never meet the child who received our gift, but my partner and I got a great deal of pleasure from putting the shoebox together and we hope it found its way to a little girl, to whom it would bring some real pleasure.

I was amazed to read that in 2010 15,000 children from Haiti and 8,000 children from Swaziland will open a Christmas shoebox.  The generosity of the British public is truly heartwarming, especially when times are very uncertain, and many of us are looking to make savings of our own.

Christmas is also a time when we, as a community, spare a thought for people who may not be receiving many gifts, those who may be lonely, afraid or who do not have the treats or basic necessities we enjoy, and take for granted.

Just before the holiday my Mum called.  My husband had arrived at my parents’ home to clear the snow from outside their door.  His job has been made so much easier by a kindly neighbour who, anonymously, and without seeking any thanks, had started the job.

Acts of generosity convey the true meaning of Christmas.

This year has been especially challenging.  A lot of people are bracing themselves for a difficult 2011, knowing that many in their family, place of work or neighbourhood may lose their jobs, because of the impact of spending cuts and the continuing recession.

In these times, the challenge for us all is to make the spirit of Christmas, a spirit of hope, community, generosity and selflessness, prevail throughout the year.  Little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness continue to be essential for those who rebuild their lives following the loss of a job or business, or worse.

People of all faiths, and of none, can draw strength from the humanity and goodwill Christmas inspires.  It is well worth the effort to make it last.

My very best wishes to you and yours.  I trust you had a Happy and Peaceful Christmas and that the  New Year is better even than we hope.

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