Welcome to Issue 50

So the Festive season is upon us once more and, hopefully, it will be a joyful one for the whole community. There are quite a few amongst us, however, who are not overly enamoured with the whole spectacle. As one of our loyal advertisers put it,-”We spend a month getting stressed, a few days eating and drinking ourselves silly and another month recovering.”

Whilst there is clearly a good case for having a celebration to bring people together and lighten up what would otherwise be a long and dark winter, you’ve got to admit he does have a point. As with all good ideas the marketing machine has jumped on the bandwagon and turned it very much to its advantage, so we find ourselves in a frenzy of shopping, buying masses of goods that we don’t really need, most of which will end up in landfill, or worse still, in our oceans.

There is nothing wrong, of course, in wanting to give our loved ones, and especially our children, that special gift which will bring joy to their hearts, but we have lived through an age of such abundance for the majority in this country that it is very difficult to find a gift that will genuinely excite a child, as they already have everything. As my Dad says, Christmas was just as special in the days when he would wake up to find a stocking with an apple and an orange as his presents. For me, the magical childhood memories of Christmas are all about the family coming together, eating, playing games and laughing together. I struggle to remember a single present.

Then, of course, there is the orgy of food and drink. The amount of food waste that goes into our bins is probably enough to feed, for several months, one of the many nations whose people live on the edge of starvation. (This plight appears to be shared by a growing number of people in this country as well.) Much of what we actually do eat, helps towards accentuating the obesity, diabetes and heart disease crises which our NHS is struggling to cope with. A Winter Solstice feast made a lot of sense in the times when undernourishment, rather than obesity was more prevalent but, in an age when most of us eat too much every day, the feast not only loses much of its special appeal but also adds to our woes.

First prize for mindless excess at Christmas though, must surely go to the boozing. It was only through living elsewhere that I came to realise just how powerful the drink culture in this country is. There is an unwritten rule that says we can’t have a good time without alcohol, and the pressure, on the young in particular, to drink ourselves silly in order to be accepted by the herd is huge. The weakest fall by the wayside into alcoholism but even those who don’t, pay heavily for it with the damage to our livers and lives. I read recently that a growing number of young people are recognising the follies of drinking and finding the  courage to abstain from it, which is very encouraging, but I suspect that around these parts at least, they are still in a small minority.

Now I realise that to many readers this editorial is sounding like a message from Scrooge, since in the current culture, anyone who speaks out against excessive consumerism, eating and drinking is classed as a heretic – a killjoy and a bore. All I can say is that I speak as one who has sampled all of these ‘delights’ for many years and arrived at the edge, before being fortunate enough to be given a second chance in which I have learnt that the true path to joy and happiness lies in simplicity, optimal health and loving relationships, whilst the excesses only take us in the opposite direction.

So a very Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope we can all make the most of this opportunity to recharge our batteries, connect with our loved ones and raise our spirits with fun and laughter, nourishing mind, body and spirit to put us in great shape for a fabulous 2019.

Ed