Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Time for relaxing in festive break

It wouldn't be Christmas if there wasn't widespread travel disruption, although this year the delays in flights and difficulties in ferry, train and road journeys are due to the severe weather rather than industrial action or just the sheer volume of people trying to get home for the festive season.

For Christmas is a time to spend in the embrace of one's family, to share the joy of the season and to have a good time. While some naysayers will complain of the over-commercialisation at this time of year - and it must be admitted that some people will overspend - only a Scrooge would deny the joy of sharing presents.

There will be sadness, too, for those families who have lost a loved one during the past year. For them there will always be a void in the festivities. Time may be a healer, but it does not erase memories of happier times.

This year Prince William helped to highlight the plight of the homeless by sleeping rough for a night in London. Those living on the streets or in hostels will have a Christmas far removed from the gilded existence of the prince - or indeed even the ordinary lives of most of us - and we should spare a thought for them.

Christmas is a time when churches are packed - a sight uncommon at most other times of the year. While it is encouraging that the spiritual message of Christmas still holds an attraction, we should also practice our faith - Christian or otherwise - in a practical manner all year round by charitable donations.

An extra present for a child with little to look forward to; a donation to an overseas aid body or to a local charity dealing with the underprivileged might be the greatest gift that we could give this, or any other year.

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