|Members of Southwark Circle in London. Suffolk Circle members will be marching with similar banners, 11.30am, Wednesday 14th December, The arc, Bury St Edmunds.|
As a little girl, I used to love helping my mother wrap the Christmas presents. It was one of my favourite things to do... until I got bored. And I would get bored. There were always too many presents and they were always the same, with the long monotony of socks, ties, handkerchiefs or bubble bath. Sometimes there would be bath salts, just to break the routine.
As I carefully wrapped the presents, which would then be dutifully distributed to all the older members of our family in time for Christmas day, I couldn't help but think how awful Christmas Day must be for old people if every year they opened a pile of socks. It would be like The Day of The Triffids, except with socks. Surely they already had enough socks or if they didn't they were old enough and sensible enough to buy their own.
Some of those 'old' people were only in their forties.
I'm now 43. a ripe old age to be caught in the firing line for chance gifts that belong to the older generation.
"The joy is in the giving, not the receiving" we hear all across the land at Christmas time.
Indeed it is and as a society we get hooked into the joy of giving presents as tokens of our love and kindness, our appreciation and our warmth towards others. Yet, very often giving is purely duty-bound and an automatic process that ends up with a national pile of unwanted gifts.
"I really don't know what to get Uncle Jim," I heard a lady say last week, as I walked past her and her friend in Bury St Edmunds. "He never likes what I get but I've got to get him something because it's bloody Christmas!"
It sounded like Uncle Jim's joy would definitely not be in 'the receiving'. And as for the lady concerned, there was certainly no joy in the act of 'giving' either. It sounded more like she was desperate for some pain relief!
So thank goodness the world is coming to its senses, at least in Bury St Edmunds, where under the auspices of social enterprise Suffolk Circle, a Flashmob & protest march is taking place this Wednesday to encourage people to think twice about what they buy for older friends and relatives this Christmas.
Suffolk Circle members will gather in the Arc shopping centre at 11.30am, bringing unwanted gifts from last year. They will march with banners to Suffolk Circle HQ, where the gifts will be donated to the Gatehouse, a West Suffolk charity dedicated to helping those in material and emotional need.
Suffolk Circle believes that wasting money on unwanted presents is even madder in the present economic climate. For me it's all about physical waste too, i.e. the embedded energy and water wastage just to get the thing from the factory, to the shop, to the Christmas tree, only for it to sit in a drawer for 12 months before ending up in a carboot sale, landfill or charity shop
It's not about ingratitude, because actually it really is simply "the thought" that counts and the awareness that an unwanted present puts unnecessary emotional pressure on the benefactor as well as the beneficiary and leaves a trail of material and economic wastage in the process, even if it is just one pair of socks!
Of course it goes without saying that no offence is intended, accidentally or otherwise, towards anyone who really adores getting socks or just simply always needs another pair, whether that be at Christmas or any other time of year.
And I admit, it really is nice to get a snuggly pair sometimes.
If you live in Suffolk and would like to take part in the flashmob, please go along on Wednesday 14th December. 11.30am. Meet opposite the Costa Café, arc shopping Centre, 14 Prospect Row, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3DG.
Suffolk Circle is a social enterprise whose members can get practical help with life’s little bits and pieces from local Helpers. They can also get out and about, meeting people with similar interests, reconnecting with their community, doing and learning new things. For family members and friends who live further away it’s a great to make sure their loved ones have neighbourly support, as well as a lot of fun, all year round. Membership costs £15 for six months or £30 for a whole year.
For further details about the Suffolk Circle or Wednesday's march, please contact:
Finbarr Carter, Head of Membership. Tel: 01284 774880, or visit www.suffolkcircle.org.uk.