The Christmas festivities can take their toll on people, even those that absolutely love this time of year.
Shift patterns at work can be all over the place, perhaps the kids need costumes making for a nativity performance, and of course, they’ll always be one family member that is almost impossible to buy gifts for (although I must be the easiest person to shop for in the world – pretty much anything with a Sunderland badge on it will do down well with me).
Those are just some of the things you’ll encounter even if you have a straightforward Christmas. If you are not as fortunate, there is any number of other issues to tackle - distressing family rifts, the absence of loved ones, and battling addictions in the face of extreme temptation will all come to the fore at this time of year, and have to be navigated by people across Wearside and beyond.
In truth, very few may experience what can be presented on television and in adverts as the stereotypical perfect Christmas. Those unable to splash the cash or that do not have a conventional family setup can often be made to feel they are somehow doing things wrong, even though behind the scenes, lives are rarely how they seem to appear in filtered social media posts.
It is very easy to get caught up in things and people are left tired, weary and with the sense that their brain is melting quicker than that Arctic Roll you put in the oven by mistake instead of the roast potatoes.
I know I can feel like that, but goodness only knows how bad it is for those having to look in on it all with their nose pressed up against the window. We have people living in Sunderland right now that are hungry, lonely, and feeling without hope and that cannot be ignored.
For all the forced fun and dodgy novelty jumpers, I do love Christmas.
As a football fan it is fantastic, and with the Lads looking like they are hitting form again, the remaining December fixtures all now seen very appealing.
Hopefully, other people can find something to be merry about as well – maybe you’re reading this as an exile that cannot wait to get back home and take a game in? Whether that is the case or not, however, there is another team that also needs our support.
The lads and lasses at the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen are reaching out to people and doing a tireless job all year round. If a big part of things is still to show ‘goodwill to all men’ then the 2021 appeal is not only helping them continue the work they do, but is hopefully lifting the spirits of those for whom Christmas is a tough old time.