This year, I Christmassed in Bristol for the second time. I’ve spent all my life living in cities, so it seems strange that I’m not usually stationed in one for Christmas, but I’m not. But being in a city opens out opportunities not always available outside them, especially if you don’t have a car and are not the host of festivities.
I write this as if it’s about me: it is. I wanted to go help the homeless and cook them Christmas dinner, and this year my husband and I did it. We went to Caring at Christmas at St Paul’s, and it was great fun.
I didn’t do it because I felt overcome with guilt or pity, because I felt obliged, as a kind of penance to qualify my life. I didn’t do it to feel morally right or superior or get that warm glow of satisfaction and good deed. I did it because I knew I would enjoy it. Good deeds are good, but they are also things that should get done. Do you feel a warm glow of righteous satisfaction when you brush your teeth, make dinner, or hoover the house? I thought not.
I like to get things done, and do them well and enjoy the work. It doesn’t feel like a chore to give up some of my Christmas day to help create ones for scores of other people; it just seems like part of the division of labour, part of the festivities, part of the human connection. It is my turn – the opportunity is there – we seize it.
I want to wish good luck to all the other Caring at Christmas volunteers and guests, and a very happy New Year. It was a pleasure to work with you all.