It costs nothing to give time

Think about what you can give at Christmas
Think about what you can give at Christmas

Apparently, Santa Claus is coming to town. Merry Christmas everyone! What would you like from the big fella with the gaudy coat and the long white beard?

I’d like world peace but I’d settle for a BMX Mongoose, writes columnist, hypnotherapist John Cooper. I always wanted one of those. Actually, as I get older, presents aren’t very important. I’ll have a lovely day if I can slope off for a nap after lunch and I don’t burn the stuffing.

Have we forgotten what’s important at Christmas?

We give so many presents and spend a lot of money, sometimes getting into debt in the process. It’s become normal to spoil the kids at Christmas. We say spoil like it’s a good thing.

Can we buy nice presents without going overboard?

My Dad is impossible to buy for because he doesn’t like anything. He doesn’t have hobbies or interests apart from football. In desperation one year, even though he isn’t a big reader, I bought him Alex Ferguson’s autobiography. He didn’t even read the back cover. I bet he rests his can of lager on it (which is probably the best use for it anyway).

I learnt my lesson. Don’t spend money on things that nobody wants. Joke presents are the worst, they end up in the bin by the time the credits have rolled on the Queen’s speech.

I’ve had an idea for a museum of abandoned secret Santa presents with a whole room dedicated to executive stress balls and one for ‘Jingle My Bells’ boxer shorts.

I don’t care what I get as long as no one gets me novelty socks. Tell someone that you like ‘The Simpsons’ and that’s you sorted for presents for the next twenty years. Thanks for the Simpsons’ watch, I’ll put it with the Simpsons’ mug, flask, tie, cuckoo clock and shoehorn.

In the early sixties, one of the Beatles said in an interview that they liked jelly babies. They were still getting truck loads delivered up until 1974. There is a huge cupboard in Abbey Road full of mouldy jelly babies.

I used to struggle with Christmas and, for a while, I thought about not visiting my family up north. My only day off every year was Boxing Day, I was tired and tempted to stay put. One year my Mam got very ill and it brought things into focus. Time with family is precious and I’d been taking it for granted. It took me a long time to realise that Christmas is about other people.

Christmas is a good opportunity to show some kindness. It’s a difficult time of year if you are down on your luck. There are a few people I could phone (texting is no good!) and a few more I could visit. It costs nothing to give my time. I might even send some cards to let a few people know that I’m thinking of them. So, I’m making a list. I’m checking it twice. Then I’m going to the post office for some stamps.

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