Are we too selfish around Christmas?
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I rarely entertain. My small flat with sea views (distant) in the Edwardian spa town of Felixstowe won't permit large numbers – not enough seats – and I don't want a lot of people traipsing through on my carpet.
Though I admit this is a little curmudgeonly of me, I sometimes wonder if entertaining is worth the effort, don't you?
Now, as we start to get booked up for Christmas, the party season approaches with terrifying inevitability.
Maybe you are having a 'do'?
It is on these occasions with a glass of warm white wine in front of a roaring fire in an overheated house with no hands free for a pastry-based canape that I don't always find socialising easy.
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'Oh you must meet James,' a hostess might say, 'you have so much in common, he's a member of the National Trust.' Thereby limiting the conversation to big houses and cheese scones.
Sometimes a hostess might be a little mischievous and introduce me to someone she knows with whom I might struggle to find common ground. 'Oh James, you must meet so and so, he's a great Corbynite and enjoys outdoor sports….' Although that rarely happens round these parts.
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In my job I sometimes find myself being asked rather tricky questions once they find out I work for a newspaper as people tend to imbue journalists with a prophetic knowledge we might not have.
'Ah, so what will Brexit look like? Only I'm worried about my house in France.'
'Will interest rates go up? What with my pension?'
That sort of thing.
Of course I never like to say no to any invite just in case I miss out on something.
All this has sprung into my mind because I spy the shops are gearing up for Christmas and it's getting to that time of year again when we all sit round with strange drinks and 'seasonal' food.
I don't know about you but these days I can't help thinking we've got a bit over indulgent, and maybe a little selfish at this time of year.
My conscience was pricked by a lady who wrote to me this week.
This Christmas I am going to spend the festive season with my son in South East England.
On Christmas Day we are volunteering with a local church group in his town and will help serve Christmas lunch to the homeless people in the area.
What do you think? Has Christmas got too much? Do we need to step back and consume a little less? Do you enjoy parties or struggle to chit chat? What can we do for our fellow man at Christmas? Write to James at firstname.lastname@example.org
I received a letter from Mrs Mary Moore of Brandeston reminding me that, as I train for the priesthood, I need to consider speaking up when preaching in church. Mary wrote:
I can't resist the opportunity to mention a problem which has puzzled and saddened me for years. Many, many times I have been disappointed at being unable to hear what the preacher was saying and have thought surely this must come into the training? Or doesn't it?
The ones you can hear usually turn out to be former school teachers, therein lies the clue. I hope very much that you will pay special attention to this, because the best-ever sermon is wasted if it can't get past the front pews.
Hopefully clarity and delivery will be high on your agenda in the course of your training, and one day I may have the pleasure of hearing you.
Every good wishes
Mrs Mary Moore
I can assure Mary we are taught to 'talk to the bells' and have lessons, among other things, on voice projection.