At this time of the year while hordes of cheery families are tucking into sumptuous Christmas feasts and ripping open presents around the tree, there are thousands, nay millions, of others around the globe who will be having a thin time of it.
A good number of us are lucky enough to have a roof over our head, a family that loves us, good, kind friends and a wonderful local community. There are those bleak times when we feel down or anxious for whatever personal reason that might be, and so it’s good to remember that we are not alone, and have countless blessings that we sometimes forget.
A few weeks ago I read about the plight of Manchester pensioner, Terence, 78, who had countless lonely Christmases since his wife died. In a show of community support, the BBC cooperated with local Oldham college students to visit the elderly man to offer him gifts, a Christmas tree and a singsong session. I was happy for Terence, but fretted about all the other lonely elderly people spending Christmas time home alone without relatives or friends. Would these students continue to visit Terence once the BBC cameras had packed up?
My first job as a rookie press officer was with charity, Help the Aged, and I saw first hand how for a vast number of older people, Christmas was a time of misery and hardship. Together with charity, Age Concern, we tried to assist as many frail pensioners as we could, especially during the lonely festive season. However, there is only so much a charity can do. Donations and volunteers are needed and of course government support. There are helplines now, and the likes of Samaritans and Silver Line in the UK play their part but there is a lot more we can do.
So, here in Majorca if you know an elderly person or couple living alone without family or community support do please pop by to say hello and check that they are okay. My erstwhile nonagenarian neighbour did have a wonderful family but she still got lonely so I always popped by with muffins or oranges or to talk with her about her days during the Spanish Civil War. Not only did I learn a heck of a lot but also I loved knowing that Margalida was always there to greet me on the track with a smile and a wave. I miss her still.
Talking of difficult times for older people, one has to admire our Queen for having survived her own annus horribilis. Surely things can only get better for the Royal Family? Having had to cope with Prince Philip’s car accident followed by his health problems, Prince Harry and Meghan’s media meltdown, and far worse, the Prince Andrew and Epstein scandal, it’s a wonder the plucky 93-year-old hasn’t fled the country. I hope she had a far better 2020 and that goes for us all!
Bye Bye to Brexit
After a fractious and unsettling year with regard to Brexit, a line has finally been drawn in the sand. With Boris Johnson in power and Brexit finally set for some kind of resolution at the end of January, let us hope that we never have to utter the dreaded word ever again. There’s no denying that it’s going to be a bumpy road for many of us British expat residents but we must steel ourselves and go with the flow as best we can.
Perhaps one of the ugliest aspects of Brexit has been how divided the nation became as a result of it. I have a few friends back in the UK who definitely disagreed with my views on the matter but rather than argue pointlessly, we agreed to keep our counsel and remain on good terms and why not? In a democratic society it is essential that we listen to the views of others even if we don’t like them. It is surely immature to turn one’s back on a friend because they fail to share the same views? Brexit really tested this resolve but with the whole horrible episode drawing to some kind of conclusion, it would be wonderful to think that wounds might heal and that the British people somehow get back on track and begin tolerating and trusting one another again.
New Year, new you
So, finally may I wish you and yours a fantastic New Year’s celebration and more importantly, a wonderful 2020 full of good cheer, happiness, health, and above all hope. This is a time to wipe the slate clear and to make sure all those inspiring resolutions and plans come to fruition. Happy New Year to you all!
Trump Home Alone
This week my family and I watched the 1992 children’s film, Home Alone 2, which despite its cheesiness always makes us giggle. Low and behold during the viewing, I became aware of a younger Donald Trump passing through the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, which he owned at the time. It was a cameo appearance but I didn’t doubt that ego had driven him to persuade the producer to include him in the Christmas blockbuster. Now there’s been a rumpus about a CBC TV version shown in Canada being cut to exclude the scene with Donald Trump. In a twitter post, the American president cast a snide remark about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s intervention as the two have locked horns on many trade issues. Whatever the real reason for the culling of the scene, I shouldn’t think Canadian audiences shed tears over it!