Belfast Telegraph

The true spirit of Christmas is alive and well... the challenge now is to extend that kindness into the year ahead

Editor's View

This weekend marks the end of the frantic rush when people are still shopping and juggling work with last-minute preparations for Christmas Day. It can be a particularly busy time for women, though not exclusively so, as they feel the pressure of trying to ensure everything is perfect for the occasion.

This is also a time when people feel particularly generous, even to the point of recklessly putting themselves under a financial strain that may come back to haunt them.

Others, however, face many different kinds of personal problems, including homelessness, loneliness, addiction and illness.

In many homes there will be an empty chair - the loss of a loved one is felt keenly at Christmas, especially for the first time.

In Northern Ireland it has been a depressing year, and at times we seem more polarised than ever. Despite this there are many people going out of their way to be helpful to others.

On Christmas Day staff will turn up for work at hospitals, nursing homes and other places.

The emergency services will still be on standby, and there appear to be more examples than ever of cafes and other businesses providing charitable enterprises on Christmas Day.

This is the true spirit of the season. It is much more than an excuse for presents and for wining and dining.

Fundamentally, it is a Christian festival, and if we lose sight of that, we lose the whole point of Christmas.

People wonder if Christmas is no longer what it was.

However, if we look for the random and deliberate acts of kindness, and the inexplicable good deeds being done at Christmas - and all the year - that sense of magic still exists.

Therefore, the challenge for all of us is to be able to distil in some way the best of the Christmas spirit in the year ahead and to hope for positive political developments and for better inter-community relations all-round.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Belfast Telegraph

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