In the northern hemisphere December is the time of year when the darkness overrules the light. When days are short. And sunlight oft in short supply. So it is no wonder that people welcome the chance to celebrate, to fill their gloomy rooms with cheerful lights, open their doors to family and friends to share a drink or two or join together for a meal. Little children giddy with excitement, anticipate the arrival of the big man with the white beard and generous heart. People smile at strangers. Wearing daft hats and even sillier jumpers. Wishing everybody a Merry Christmas.
From October the pressure is on. We are bombarded everywhere you look by adverts always showing happy families together. Telling us that to be happy we should be spending our money on lavish gifts, which are still being paid for when it is time for the summer holidays. Fill our cupboards and freezers with enough food to feed an army for a fortnight or more, even though the supermarkets will be closed for only one day. Grey-faced with tiredness we pile into cars or trains or even planes to join the family. Somewhere. So we are not alone.
But what about those who have nothing to celebrate? Those living on the streets, for whatever reason. The hungry? The poor? Singletons who have no family to share a meal with. People who have recently suffered a bereavement or face Christmas without a certain family member for the first time. Old people forced into often childish behaviour, being treated as though they were infants again. Those who have no religious beliefs and find the whole idea of celebrating a birth that may never have happened a complete anathema. Those who really, truly, honestly, prefer to be on their own, but are made to feel that there must be something wrong with them.
What about them?