You Can’t Be Serious - ‘The good life…’
You Can’t Be Serious – ‘The good life…’

‘It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas,’ but what sort of feelings are we talking about here? Yes, I know – the song does tell us; but this warm cosy Christmas feeling is not all inclusive. What does ‘beginning to feel like Christmas’, mean to you?

For the majority of us Christmas will be about sharing with family, trees, dazzling lights, charming decorations, jingle bells, Rudolph and Bing. Christians will celebrate the birth of Jesus – which Christmas was meant to be all about in the first place. All of this comes under the heading of a ‘nice Christmas,’

Now, during this run-in to Christmas, let us ponder for a few moments and give a thought to those unfortunates for whom this Christmas will bring nothing but unimaginable misery. We are not referring solely to the homeless or the downtrodden: In fact, due to the generosity of the people, nobody needs to go without company and a good hot Christmas dinner in this country.

The saddest people this Christmas may well be there in full view and even return the ‘season of goodwill’ smile you bestow upon them. Their pride is possibly the barrier between you and their suffering in silence. We are not being overly dramatic or exaggerating here. For a great number of people, Christmas is the lousiest time of the year. If you are one such person, don’t despair and please read on.

For those who have recently lost a loved one, or lost their love over a past Christmas, this is the time when such feelings of grief and sadness are intensified. There are those who will be wrestling with the loneliness of isolation, stressed by family conflict, or struggling with increased financial pressures. The Covid pandemic will have accentuated feelings of negativity and the person in the depths of despair will experience a horrible sense of inadequacy on observing the revelry going on all around them.

If you are somebody who is suffering any sort of mental strain this Christmas, please remember there is hope and there is help available. If you are really ‘down in yourself’ relief is at hand at the end of the phone. I say ‘relief’ rather than ‘help’ here, because at the end of your phone-call, the most profound emotion will be one of immense relief. You are not alone with your problems any more – and doesn’t the old saying tell us that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved?’

We are talking here about ‘The Samaritans’. There is a trained volunteer at the end of every phone and you are guaranteed understanding and a sympathetic ear. No problem is either too big or too small to be talked about. Your counsellor will not pry as to who you are and they are all totally non-judgemental.

The Samaritans is not a religious organisation, though it was founded by a vicar, Chad Varah, way back in 1953. What Char Varah started on his own has now grown to become a help-line manned by 20,000 volunteers worldwide.

Chad was a great man – in the truest sense of the word. As well as performing his pastoral duties, he made ends meet through writing articles and selling cartoons. All this while he made himself available and gave a kindly ear to troubled people.

Then everything changed when Chad encountered a sad and distressing incident. A fourteen year old girl killed herself because she thought she was going to die. What caused her death was the fact that she had never been told ‘the facts of life’ and when unfamiliar bodily function arrived for the first time, the child had nobody to turn to, so fear and despair drove her to her death.

On 2nd November 1953, Chad started taking telephone calls. Because he was a columnist, he had in his possession the vehicle to spread the word and invite the troubled to call. Volunteers offered their time and in a very short time Chad wrote the following line; “It soon became evident that volunteers were doing the clients more good than I was.” In 1954 he officially handed over the task of supporting the calls to volunteers.

Today there is a sympathetic Samaritan at the end of every phone. If you are feeling any way depressed over Christmas – or at any other troubling time … just pick up that phone. Remember that your first dividend is that ‘a problem shared, is a problem halved.’

And before we leave this subject, a word on alcoholism. Alcoholism is a physical compulsion and a mental obsession with alcohol. The disease is in the genes and is nobody’s fault. 98% of alcoholics hold down jobs and give the appearance of living a normal life.

Drink is fine and a gift of nature. 88% of those who drink can enjoy if – and fair play to you. Of the remainder, if you feel that alcohol is causing a problem, once again, help is at the end of your phone through contacting AA

Don’t Forget

A kind word picks up a man when trouble weighs him down.

Bernie Comaskey Books