Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The Best Resolutions We Can Make

NEW YEAR Approaches, so does that mean you're out to find a brand new you? Or rediscover a long-forgotten you? Making New Year resolutions has become more of a tradition than a true reflection of what we want in life. 

Most of us don’t know what we want in life. I mean I'm 41 and still not really sure I'm doing what I ought to be doing. Admittedly some of us end up making resolutions about the 'wrong' things, the things that don't really change anything and so make us feel like our lives haven't gone anywhere in the course of another passing year.

There's nothing wrong in wanting to make positive changes of course, but rather than making them New Year resolutions, why not make them just stuff to try and achieve over the course of the year. Don't give yourself barriers to jump over, just so you can resent yourself if things don't work out. Just give yourself the opportunity to to look at things a different way.

Reevaluate your career. 
Are you really doing what you think you should be doing. Are you halfway up the career ladder and suddenly discovered that you're not sure you want to carry on climbing the ladder you're on?

Change Something About Your Life
Sounds like this is a broad one, right? I’m not referring to your hair, or your job, or your car, or learning to samba. (Although, why not if that floats your boat) I’m talking about stuff that leaves a mark on your life, something you can flaunt for all to see. Just strive to be a bigger better person, so that when you reach December 31st 2015 you can say, I did that, or I’ve been there or … I’ve changed.

Fight For Something
Step out of your comfort zone, and make a stand. It doesn’t have to be something that needs you to take to the streets bare-chested and wave a placard. (Although again, don't let me stop you, should you so wish) This is personal. This is an exercise to liberate yourself. Be brave.
Muster up the courage to ask for a something, whatever it is and whomever you're asking. Stand up to that person who clearly has a problem with anything that has your name on it. We all have our own battles to fight. Find yours and deal with it.

Do Something Unexpected
The catch here is to do something you are proud to tell your children about, (so you can stop that thought right away!). It might just be something as simple as trying that food with the names you can't pronounce. Or just trying to make amends with family or friends that you have had run-ins with.
Let's not forget that the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you can't do!

Be Human Again
It is quite normal these days to spend more time with your gadgets than with people. There are side effects from this but there are also plenty of ways to regain control. This item has to do with reconnecting with your emotions, your humanity. You could try a total tech de-tox for a week!

Show Gratitude
There is kindness in the world, and it can come from the strangest of places, even though we are told not to expect them. The important thing is that when you are in the presence of an act of kindness, participate, extend it or if you are on the receiving end, appreciate it.

Life is too short to hold a grudge. 

Find A Reason To Be Happy
Because that’s all we ever want, isn’t it? We want a reason to be happy, yet instead of aiming for that, we choose to ignore it, because our happiness isn't important. We strive to keep everyone else happy and put our needs to the bottom of the pile. Well don't! You deserve a big slice of happy too – We all do!

Resolutions and lists can best serve us, as more of a reminder for the coming new year. As I said earlier, at their worst, they a just another reason to hate yourself at the end of the year. So don’t fall into that same trap again. Make the coming new year a different one, a happy one, and one you can look back on and smile.

So rip up that wish list, burn those same old resolutions, and just strive to be the best you, you can be. You might well find that you're a pretty good you just as you are.

Happy 2015 people, let's make this one count.

Monday, 22 December 2014

The Unforgettable Christmas

(2) Well here we are at Christmas Eve-Eve, and my last YULETIDY TUESDAY. So as a little gift to you, (No you can't take it back to the shop! RUDE!) I thought I'd give you a little Christmassy related excerpt from The Book. Enjoy!
Peter Prince had experienced many embarrassing and sometimes life threatening calamities throughout his life. There had been 'The Christmas Party of Shame in 2010', 'The Big Benidorm Blunder of 2006', 'The Millennium Bugger up of 2000' and 'The shopping trolley debacle, in '95. To name only a few. Although the one that really sticks out like a thorn in the brain happened during his last year of Infant School, when Peter had been chosen to play the part of a Christmas Tree. 
It was the turn of Peter's class, 2B, to do the school Nativity. Every year each of the second year classes would take it in turns over a number of days, to perform their version of the Christmas Story. It was done like this so all the children had their turn at being on stage, which meant all the parents got a chance to come and see their child perform. 
Naturally Peter had wanted to be Joseph, all the boys wanted to be Joseph, mostly because Emma Huntley was playing Mary and everyone fancied Emma Huntley. Failing that, the next key role to wish for was one of the three Kings, or even the Inn Keeper at a push. The rest of the boys in his class would then either be given the role of shepherds or the lowest rank of players, the generic stable animal. 
Peter would have even loved to have been one of those given the opportunity, but instead his teacher, Mrs Barton had decided to make Peter play a tree! He was effectively being asked to play a piece of scenery, a role that could of easily been played by a large piece of painted cardboard. Although Mrs Barton, who always seemed to be slightly on edge and about to tip over it, had tried to convince him that the 'Christmas Tree' was a very important role indeed and that he would make a lovely tree.
Walking slowly home that afternoon, a dejected Peter had told his mum about his disappointing role in the school play. Although his mum, seemed to be of the same opinion about the whole 'tree' role as Mrs Barton. She'd said that she was sure that he would be a brilliant tree, and after all, what would Christmas be like if you didn't have a Christmas Tree!? There would be nothing to put the presents under, there would be nothing to decorate and put lights on, and where were you supposed to put the Christmas star if you had no tree to put it on. 
When they arrived home and taken off their coats, she lent over and gave him a very tight hug and told him, that he would be the best Christmas Tree Acorns Infant School had ever seen. 
A couple of weeks passed, and it was now the weekend before the big day and Peter was feeling a lot better about things. He was actually quite looking forward to his very important role as he sat and watched with interest as his mum lovingly put together his costume. Peter was officially helping her of course (which when you're six means watching your mum do it), before finally lending a hand gluing different coloured glitter to milk bottle tops, so they could be stuck onto it to resemble baubles. 
The main body of the tree was made from two very large sheets of green card which had been bought from 'Doodle Snips' the art shop in town. They were then carefully taped and stapled together, before being folded round into a large cone. Then the top of the cone was scrupulously trimmed off to make a hat, which would later have a big silver-foil star inserted into it's top. 
Two holes were then carefully cut out at the sides for Peter to pop his woolly green jumper clad arms through and the trunk of the tree was made using a single tube of corrugated cardboard, (so it resembled bark) which Peter could just slip over his legs. The final touch to the ensemble would be a string of red tinsel, draped and stapled around the costume. Peter had found the bright red tinsel at the bottom of the Christmas decorations box, which had been brought down from the loft earlier that weekend, so the decorations could finally go up after weeks of pestering. 
Peter swelled with pride as he proudly modelled his nativity costume in front of his parents and the big lounge mirror. He and his mum and dad thought the finished result looked magnificent. “Blimey!” Peter's dad John had said, who was seeing the results for the first time having spent most of the day with a step ladder putting up decorations “You've done a great job there Pat!”
“I helped too!” protested Peter, who was feeling very pleased with himself “I made all the baubles and I stuck them on all by myself!”
“And a fine job you did as well lad.” his dad replied, before smiling at Patricia, who also seemed very pleased that all her hard work had been appreciated. The only tiny downside of the fabulous looking costume was that it was very tricky to walk in. Although Peter didn't think that was a big problem, because trees aren't known for walking about much anyway. Even so, he'd still practised for hours taking little shuffling steps round and round the lounge in his outfit, as his parents industriously put up the rest of the Christmas decorations, as they listened to songs from the Christmas LP they had bought from Woolies. Christmas songs which included Peter's favourite, 'Stop the Cavalry' by Jona Lewie, which he would normally march like a small soldier around the room to (although apparently shuffling in a tree costume seemed to work just as well).
A few days later, the afternoon of The Great Acorns Nativity had arrived and tiny child-sized chairs had been placed in the main hall for all the mums and dads to try and squeeze into. The stage was set, any pre-show nerves had been dealt with, and pretty soon all the unbecoming chairs were filled to overflowing (quite literally in most cases) with the bottoms of pride-ridden parents waiting for their little angels to take to the boards. Eventually the chatter in the hall subsided to an excited hush, the main lights were lowered, and a spotlight appeared centre stage to signify the start of the festive production. 
It was about three quarters of the way through the play and so far everything had gone without a hitch. From behind the curtain at the side of the stage, even Mrs Barton had begun beaming with pride and clapping her hands quietly in front of her face, as one by one each of he children went on, played their parts, or sang their songs and shuffled back off stage again.
Then, as the Three Kings were finishing their song 'Following the Star', Peter, who had been patiently waiting in the wings in his home made Christmas Tree costume, nervously realised it was nearly time for him to make his entrance and went through what he was supposed to do. As Clare Thomas narrated the next part of the story all he had to do was shuffle across the stage and stand at the side of the Wendy House (that had been repainted and had straw stuck onto its roof to make it look like a stable). Then the three angels, played by Sally, Suzanne and Stephanie Jones or as they were otherwise known 'the triplets', all of whom had matching long blonde hair and pretty dimpled smiles, were to skip around Peter with their silver tinsel-wrapped coat hanger-halos and tin foil-covered cardboard wings, while the whole class joined in with the final rousing song 'Behold the King'. It couldn't be simpler.
Unfortunately, Peter had needed the loo ever since the triplets had told the nine shepherds about the baby Jesus being born in 'Befflem', back in Act 2. At first he had felt too nervous to go up to the then very stressed out Mrs Barton, who was running about with her arms flailing whilst trying to quietly bark orders to all 32 children at the same time, without reducing them to tears. Besides, at that point Peter was sure he could hold it until the curtain went down on his hopefully memorable performance. Of course little did he know then, just how memorable his particular performance was going to be that afternoon, all be it for all the wrong reasons.
Clare Thomas had seemed like the natural choice as narrator to Mrs Barton when she had been delegating roles, she was the class 'chatterbox' and was constantly being told to stop talking by Mrs Barton who was a great believer in playing to the children's strengths. However, what Mrs Barton hadn't banked on was the fact that during the performance Clare would want her time in the spotlight to last just that little bit longer, and so once her scripted part was nearly at an end she then began to add lib. 
“And so the fwee kings, gave the baby Jesus his pwesents, gold, fwankincense and myrrh ...” Mrs Barton's smile of pride, froze and her eyes took on a look of mild panic, as Clare carefully closed the giant prop book she was reading from, turned to face the audience and continued. “... Errrm ... then the baby Jesus said, fank you vewy much and it was just what he'd always wanted! Then he told the fwee kings that his mum and dad could have his Fwankinstein and Myrrh, cos he didn't know what they was. But he kept the gold cos he thought it was pwetty and he loved it. And because he hadn't got any pwesents before and because it was Chwistmas, he thought he could use the gold to buy lots of Care Bears and a Cabbage Patch Kid.” 
When the change in script happened, a confused Peter turned to look at Mrs Barton for guidance, unfortunately she was still frozen to the spot staring from the wings with a look ever increasing horror, so without looking down she just shoved Peter towards the stage, loudly whispering through gritted teeth “Go! Get out there Peter! Quick!” So, trying not to look at the audience he started shuffling towards the far side of the stage, nervously aware of the dark hall that was full of parents seated on their tiny chairs watching him. He risked a quick glance as he slowly made his way across the stage and spotted his mum Patrica sat in the front row next to his Auntie Mary (Mary wasn't really Peter's auntie, just his mum's life-long friend and mum of his best friend Matt). 
That's when it happened. 
Timothy Smith, who was one of those unfortunate children who constantly seemed to have a runny nose, and was currently dressed as his stable animal of choice, The Badger. He'd sat on the floor in front of the stable with his legs straight out in front of him, idly daydreaming and searching the contents of his sticky nose for another snack. Unfortunately, Peter was so busy looking out for the proud smiling face of his mum, he didn't notice Timothy's outstretched legs. 
So, because Peter's legs were wrapped together by a corrugated card tree trunk, and because the laws of physics are what they are, Peter tripped headlong, hurtling forwards over the unseen limbs. He lurched forwards, instinctively grabbing the corner of the makeshift stable to keep himself upright, which promptly collapsed onto most of the class. Poor Peter then landed with a thump, flat on his face. With the shock of his fall, mixed with the loud screams of most of his class, who were trying to free themselves from underneath the unstable stable, Peter's full bladder emptied it's entire contents.
It was one of those instants where time felt as if it was running in slow motion and young Peter hoped that what he was experiencing was just going to turn out to be one of those nightmares that he would wake from at any moment still safely tucked up in bed.
It wasn't. 
So instead he opted for just laying perfectly still on his front where he had fallen, hoping that nobody would notice his red face quietly sobbing on the dusty stage as he laid on the now warm and sodden cardboard. 
They did. 
It was one of triplets that noticed it first, “Ewwww! Mrs Barton! Peter Prince has wet himself!”
That initial cry, opened the floodgates (if you'll excuse the pun) to a multitude of “Ewwww”'s mixed with pointing and a cacophony of laughter erupting from his now mostly free classmates. They had all forgotten about finishing the play and where instead intent on making the most of this opportunity to poke fun at their hapless class mate. Only one voice, that of his best friend Matt, had shouted in his defence. “Shut up you lot!” followed by “Leave him alone!” 
Mrs Barton, was now back in full frantic mode and after wrenching the scenery off the children had ran over to the now loudly sobbing Peter to ask if he was okay. “Yes Mrs Barton” sniffed Peter as he fought back another lump of tears caught in his throat. In truth of course, Peter was so far removed from being 'okay' he could almost see it from the other side (In fact, you could probably say he was utterly 'Yako'). 
Still laying face down in his wet tree costume, Peter heard his mum's comforting voice whisper in his ear. “Don't worry sweetheart I'm here,” she said as she stroked his head “let's get you up off the floor shall we?”. She had dashed from her chair as soon as she'd seen him topple and clambered onto the stage as quickly as she could. She tore off the sodden cardboard from Peter's soaked legs and lifted him onto his feet and into her arms. “I know it doesn't seem like it at the moment sweetheart,” she said as she gently kissed Peter on the forehead and brushed his fringe away, “but things will be alright I promise.” She then clutched Peter tightly to her chest as he continued to sob.
“You alright Pete!?” It was Matt, he'd rushed over to the where Peter was, shoving children out the way as he barged through the crowd. Peter sniffed back his tears and quietly nodded. “Look, don't worry about it Pete, I pee my pants all the time!” Matt loudly boasted, “In fact I wet the bed last Saturday, didn't I mum!?” he continued while looking to his mum who was standing at the front of the stage lending her support.
“Yes Matthew, you did,” she flatly replied while trying to hide her face with her hand, “but I'm pretty sure not everybody in the world needed to know.” Matt looked around him and shrugged, then put his heavy arm around his friends shoulder.
Still wearing the top half of his tree costume, which had a large, dark, damp patch around the lower half, Peter was led by his mum, swollen eyed and red faced off the stage, through the double doors at the back of the hall and into the safety of the quiet corridor behind.
Children are cruel, and sadly have brilliant memories for something as mortifying as this was for Peter. Which meant, for the rest of that school year he was known by many of his so called classmates, as 'Peter Pee Pants'. This wasn't helped by the fact that there was another boy called Peter in his class, Peter Roberts, which meant that when their names were called during morning register, Mrs Barton would use their surname initial as well. So at the start of every day she would call out “Peter P!?”. At which point at least one of the kids would always follow it by loudly whispering “Pants!” much to the hilarity of the rest of the class and the continued embarrassment of poor Peter.
So what's the moral of this tale of woe you may well ask? Is it that kids can be nasty gits, even at Christmas Time? Or maybe don't drink an entire Snoopy flask of Blackcurrant before taking part in a Nativity? Both worth noting of course, but what it says to me is that no matter how old we are, and no matter what calamity befalls us, thankfully there will always be people around us that will stand up and shout our corner, or just pick us up, give us a hug, and tell us that things are going to be okay whether it's Christmas time or not. So whoever those people are in your life, make sure you tell them how much they mean to you this Christmas.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Friday Before Christmas

Twas the Friday before Christmas, whilst at the work house,
All the creatures were busy, with a click of their mouse.
Then thoughts of all work were thrown in the air,
They were leaving for Christmas, so they didn’t care. 

The children were xboxing whilst sat on their beds,
While Call of Duty and Halo was filling their heads,
The Mrs was home sorting that last minute thing,
While he drove his was home, and attempted to sing. 

When out on the driveway there arose such a clatter,
Neighbours sprang from their sofas to see what's the matter.
Away to their windows they flew like a flash,
Hoping to see the cause of the crash. 

Twas grey and rainy with no hint of snow,
The pavements were sparkling, the streetlights aglow,
When, what did their wondering eyes should appear,
A small Nissan Note, no longer in gear.
The massive driver was spread on the floor,
He’d tripped on the seatbelt whilst leaving the door, 

Erupting in laughter the neighbours were heard,
Whilst he picked himself up and said a rude word.
“Now Christmas, The BublĂ©, Now Dance 93!?,
Oh this really is stupid” he said seeing scattered cds, 

They’d all fallen out when he’d took his tumble,
So he gathered them up, with a mutter and grumble.
And then in a twinkling, he danced down the hall,
Prancing and singing “IT’S CHRISTMAS” he called. 

The cats ran for cover with a leap and a bound,
As he skipped past the kitchen and into the lounge.
Still dressed in his coat and a fleece hat,
he strode into the lounge and on the sofa he sat, 

A huge manic smile was spread on his face, 
He looked like looney, a real special case. 
His eyes how they twinkled, he was feeling so merry,
his cheeks were like roses and his nose like a cherry, 

His insane looking smile was drawn up like a bow,
Then he exclaimied “Oh, I wish it would snow”
“I'm having a cider” he yelled and lept up,
then dashed to kitchen, to grab a glass for a sup. 

He has a broad face and quite a big belly,
That shakes when he laughs, like a bowlful of jelly!
He’s chubby and plump, a right jolly old thing,
You’d smile if you see him, with the joy that he brings. 

With a sip more of cider and a twist of his head,
back to the lounge, from the kitchen he fled.
With a sping in his step, his whole family he hugged,
Whist trying not to spill, the drink that he chugged. 

He smiled ever so broadly then yelled with all might,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

It can be Christmas Every Day!

Tis but one week to go folks! Surely we're all caught up in the whole Christmassy thing by now. It's the time of the year when we're all a little nicer to each other. We smile a little easier. We share a little more and we get a little more generous. For a few weeks in the year we all turn into the people we always hoped we would be.

It really is a tiny miracle in itself because this all happens just because it's Christmas. So don't waste this miracle – if you do you're going to regret it. If there's something on your mind, a spark of an idea you had about helping someone out or visiting that awkward relative, do it! If you've been thinking about doing something, but have put it off because it's not convenient or easy, make the effort and just do it! You have to do something! Now more than ever you have the chance to take a chance and get involved.

It doesn't have to be taking a blanket or a sandwich or a bowl of soup to those people that might not be as fortunate as you this time of year – but it could be if that's what's been on your mind. Whatever it is, it could just mean you just give a little of what is often seen as our most precious commodity – our time. It might well be something you wouldn't normally do, something surprising, but something that will put a smile into the heart of the person it's intended for.

And if you give a little, then this miracle can happen to you! It's not just the poor and hungry, everyone deserves a slice of this thing. And if you do it, and you get that buzz of warmth, you'll like it and you'll get hungry for it and you'll want it to happen again and again. You'll want it every day!

The song says 'I Wish it could be Christmas Every Day', but I don't think Roy Wood was talking about stuffing ourselves stupid, drinking ourselves under the table and emptying our bank accounts by buying meaningless gifts. I like to think he was talking about that spark of joy that we all get when we do something nice for someone else. 

That Christmas feeling doesn't have to be something we plug ourselves into once a year, it CAN happen every day! You've just got to want that feeling and then go and do something about it.

Do look after yourselves, and each other.
Oh and a VERY merry Christmas to you!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Close Encounters of the Santa Kind

The year is 1978, Every Which Way but Loose and Superman were on at the cinema, and it's Christmas Eve. Although this story may seem 'beyond belief', I assure you, it is in fact very true. It's proof (if any were needed) that Christmas magic isn't just for cheesy Christmas24 films but it happens everywhere in real life too (probably even where you live).

Sam was just five years old at the time, his dad worked at the local hospital in the A&E department, and was sadly working the night shift that year. This meant he and his mum were alone for the first time in Sam's life on Christmas Eve. It was difficult not having his dad there as usually he'd been able to swap shifts or take time off so they could be together.

Sam was asleep in his mum's room, having used the excuse that he was missing dad not being home. Five year-olds will use emotional blackmail as quick as you like if they think they can get away with it. Clearly Sam had. However, events were about to put all thought's of missing dad completely from his mind. Sam woke up with a start after hearing a loud bang. His mum was also sat bolt-upright in bed and looking at the ceiling. They had both heard a very loud something on the roof. Of course, being a young boy at that time, Sam naturally assumed it was Father Christmas and was about to let himself get very excited, but mum wasn't looking excited, in fact she was looking terrified and seemed convinced it may be something far more sinister.

She told Sam to stay in bed as she got up and cautiously crept up to the window and peeped through the curtains. Sam was both excited and to be honest a little afraid, but only because his mum seemed so shaken by it. Although Sam thought it could easily be Father Christmas, he also knew that it may be a burglar. His mum stood at the window and just stared, not moving and not saying a word. Sam asked her what was out there, but she completely ignored him and just carried on starring out the window towards the roof.

When she eventually came back to the bed she was shaking and had a mesmerized look on her face. Sam wasn't sure whether curiosity had just got the better of him or if he was just feeling brave and protective (he was after all the man of the house that night); either way he leapt out of bed and ran to the window. What Sam saw, all but it briefly, was indeed Father Christmas! There was no mistaking it, there he was in all his glory, there was his sleigh and all the reindeer. He only caught a glimpse, as almost as he got to the window they had flown off his roof and into the sky – it was just like you'd see on a Christmas card or a classic Santa film.

Sam felt a wave of excitement wash over him and incredibly special to have witnessed something that most kids would long to see. His mum on the other hand thought she was losing the plot. She'd immediately phoned her mum and told her what they'd seen, but Nanny Doris tried to make light of it, and said she must have just had too much to drink that night. Although she couldn't help feeling a little concerned for her daughter, as Sam's mum sounded really quite shaken by the whole thing. In truth, even Nanny Doris was a little concerned for Sam's mum's sanity.

Years passed and Sam and his mum never really talked again about that night or what either of them had seen. Sam was now in his first year of secondary school, (year 7 in new money) and his class were given the task of having to tell a Christmas story. So Sam told the one that I've just shared with you. His friends laughed at him and took the mickey of course, none of them believed his story. Things got even worse, when an upset Sam had shouted at his classmates and told them he was serious. They really didn't know what to think of Sam after that.

However, when he was leaving the classroom that day, one child (who Sam didn't recognise) came up to him and said, “You know what, I thought that was a great Christmas story. They say if someone really believes they may, at one time in their life, experience what you did.” That child then patted Sam on the shoulder and left, Sam never saw him again. Who was he? I didn't remember ever seeing him in class, or even around the school before.

As it fresh in his mind, when Sam got home that day, he had to ask his mum what it was that she had seen on that Christmas Eve. He wanted to check with her that he wasn't the fool that all his classmates seemed to think he was. As they had never talked about it, Sam didn't really know what she had seen that night. All he could remember was how quiet and shaken up she had been, and how mesmerized she had appeared. Sam wanted to know what she saw, to in fact see if I had imagined the whole thing, as so many kids do.

His mum's usual smile, that she greeted him with when he got home from school, faded from her face. She told Sam that it had been a very difficult Christmas Eve that year because dad wasn't around, but at the same time, quite a miraculous one. 

She looked down in embarrassment, then looked up at Sam and said, “Well, I hope you don't think I'm mad, at least no madder than you think I normally am, but I saw Father Christmas and his sleigh and reindeer on our roof and getting ready to taking off. Once you were asleep I even got dressed and got the ladder out the shed to have a look at the roof. The snow-covered roof had animal prints all over it and disturbed snow, where the sleigh had been sitting.” With tears in her eyes she smiled, and asked Sam what he had seen. He told her that he too saw the sleigh and reindeer as it took off into the sky. He had even heard the sleigh bells in the sky that night, and his mum admitted that she had as well. She and Sam shared a truly unforgettable and magical experience that night . . . and if you truly believe you just might too.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Put some Christmas love in your heart

[To the tune, Put A Little Love in Your Heart]

It's nearly Christmas time
We should be feelin' fine
Put a little love in your heart
You see it's nearly here
We should be full of cheer
So, put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a Christmas hand
Put a little love in your heart
If you want the world to know
We want the joy to flow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
All the world (all the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see, wait and see

Take a good look around
Even if ya feeling down
And put a little love in your heart
So at this Chrimbletide
Let Kindness be your guide
And put a little love in your heart

And the world (and the world) will be a better place
And the world (and the world) will be a better place
For you (for you)
And me (and me)
You just wait (just wait)
And see

People, now put a little love in your heart
Each and every day
Put a little love in your heart
Could feel like Christmas Day
If ya put a little love in your heart
It's up to you
Put a little love in your heart
C'mon and
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart

Lost your Christmas Tingle?

PHILOSOPHICAL PHURSDAY: Are your internal fairy lights flickering? Are you finding it tricky tracking down your tinsel-tingle? Is your festiveness feeling a little flat? A lot of people struggle to find that spark of excitement that they see others ramming down their throats. (Sorry about that) But good golly miss Holly it's Christmas time! 

Have you been left 'cold outside' by all the blatant commercialism, and yearn for a simpler time when the reason for the season felt a bit more special? Do you feel like you want to try and recapture some of that magic and wonder that the Christmas spirit brings? Well, fear not, all is not lost. 

You've bought some pressies to why not jump in your car and go and deliver them a bit earlier when it's not so much of a rush to deliver your gifts. Forget all the hustling and bustling and stress of trying to find a parking space you had to get the best deals; exchanging gifts with friends and family is one of the best things to boost your Chrimbo button.

Close your eyes (after you read this obviously). Now, imagine your best Christmas ever. It might have been when Father Christmas got you that Scalextic or bike as a kid, or maybe that Christmas Eve night when you really thought you heard the bearded big man himself as you tried to sleep. Ask yourself a question why was that special, and what did it feel like?

If it was simply that sense of wonder and how it felt like everybody was "nicer" somehow. Remember and soak in the memories you had of total belief in magic and in a man who delivers presents everyone all over the world.

Keep a smile on your face, and walk with your head up. Greet everybody—young and old, even people you might instinctively dislike—with a hearty "Merry Christmas!" Sure, you may not believe it yourself at first, but give it some time and you'll soon receive enough smiles from complete strangers to make even the hardest of hearts melt just a little.

Plus of course, it doesn't matter if you have a house full of kids, or are on your own. Enjoy the trappings of the season in any way you can.

So grab yourself your Christmas tree, turn on the Christmas music, and decorate the wotsit out of wherever you are. Once your home smells like Christmas, it's hard not to get a little excited.

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!" Whether your tastes run towards the traditional Miracle on 34th Street, the classics like A Christmas Carol by Dickens (or a comedic take with Scrooged or ELF), stop-action animations like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Nightmare Before Christmas, Christmas telly is filled with nostalgia, humor, morality, and lots of simple fun. (Do try Chritmas24 TV channel)

Start a new tradition before the big day, so you get the chance to spend some time with friends and family that you don't get the chance to see as often as you would like. Make Christmas the excuse for a good get together and have yourself a belly full of laughs. 

And most important of all: be yourself. No matter what your faith, belief, desires, traditions, or expectations are, Christmas is about celebrating love and kindness and friends and family. So make the days coming up to Christmas as full of as much joy as you can muster and you can't go far wrong. The fountain of Christmas spirit resides in all of us, and it's up to us to let it flow freely.

Look after yourself, and each other. Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Monday, 8 December 2014


Jake was only 8 when it happened. So he'd raced to the top of his road to his nans house to get some answers. His big sister had just dropped a bombshell: "There is no Father Christmas!" she'd jeered, "Only babies believe in Father Christmas!"

Jake's nan wasn't the gushy kind, she never had been, but after telling his mum where he was going, Jake ran straight to her house at the top of their road that day because he knew she would be straight with him. He knew nan always told the truth, and knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her famous mince pies.

Thankfully she was home, and a fresh batch of mince pies had just come out the oven. Between tentative bites and blowing, he told her what his sister had just said.

"No Father Christmas!" she snorted. "That's ridiculous! Don't believe a word of it. That silly rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, go and put your coat back on, and let's go!"

"Go? Where are we going nan?" Jake asked. He hadn't even finished his second mince pie!

Where, turned out to be 'Davidsons' a local family run shop. Davidsons had been in the town for as long as anyone could remember and sold a little bit of just about everything you can think of. They walked through its doors, and Jake beamed at all the Christmas decorations that festooned the little shop and the big tree in the window that had a toy train running round it's base. Jake's nan then handed him £15.

"Take this money," she said, "and go and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned round and walked out of the shop.

He was only eight years old, and always went shopping with his mum, but he'd never shopped for anything all by himself. Suddenly the shop felt very big and the shelves stacked with all kinds of tempting things almost seemed to loom over him. For a few moments Jake just stood there, confused, clutching the money, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. He thought of everybody he knew: his family, his friends, his neighbors, his friends at school, even his teachers.

He was just about thought out, when suddenly one thought struck him. Shane Decker. He was the kid at school with the bad breath, funny clothes and messy hair – 'The smelly kid', and he sat right behind Jake in Mrs. Pollock's class. Shane Decker never wore a coat, even when it was freezing. Jake knew that because Shane never went out for break during the winter. His mum always wrote him a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough; but all the kids knew that Shane Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat.

Jake looked at the money gripped in his hand with growing excitement. He would buy Shane Decker a coat. He settled on a red corduroy one with a furry lining and a hood. It looked really warm, and he knew it would be the coat that he would of chosen for himself. He didn't see a price tag, but £15 ought to buy anything surely! So Jake put the coat and the £15 on the counter and pushed them toward the lady behind it.

Mrs Davidson looked at the coat, looked at the money, and then looked at Jake. "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" she asked kindly.

"Yes," Jake shyly replied. "It's ... for Shane Decker. He's in my class, and he doesn't have a coat."

Mrs Davison smiled at Jake and took the money and put it in the till. Jake didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished him a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Jake's nan helped him wrap the coat in Christmas paper with ribbons and bows, and beautiful glittery name tag. "Okay Jakey you've got to write 'To Shane, From Father Christmas' on it” His nan told him that Father Christmas always insisted on secrecy when it came to giving presents.

As they drove over to Shane Decker's house, his nan explained to Jake that he was now and forever officially one of Father Christmas' helpers. She parked down the road from Shane's house, and she and Jake crept noiselessly and hid behind the bushes by his front path.

Suddenly, Jake's nan gave him a nudge. "All right, Father Christmas," she whispered, "get going!"

Jake took a deep breath, dashed for the front door, threw the present down on the step, pounded the doorbell twice and flew back to the safety of the bushes and his nan. Together they waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Shane. He looked down, and was shocked to find the beautifully wrapped present sitting on his door step. He looked around, quickly picked up his present, took it inside and closed the door.

Forty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments Jake spent shivering, beside my nan, in Shane Decker's bushes. That night, Jake realized that those awful rumours about Father Christmas were just what his nan had said they were: Ridiculous!

Father Christmas is alive and well ... AND WE WERE ALL ON HIS TEAM!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

It's a worry, isn't it!?

It's no good trying to deny it, I inherited my mothers worry gene. I've always been more of a worrier than a warrior I'm afraid, from the time I was old enough to realise there where things to worry about, I have spent my time worrying about them. Although, thankfully for everybody else, I do cope with this in the very British way of just keeping all my worries to myself and just quietly wither away inside pretending that everything is marvellous.

Worrying though, is just a natural part of the human condition. We all worry about people we care about, or our jobs, or anything that might spoil our lifestyle as we see it. Through the years it has played a vital role in our survival and it can actually help us cope with many day to day challenges. At the same time of course, if the worrying is too intense, too frequent, and too unrelenting, it can definitely cut down on our happiness and enjoyment of life in general.

We all experience the worry goblin to some extent though. We all know that nagging feeling that something is wrong and the persistent anxiety that comes with it. But what precisely is worrying and why do we do it? Interestingly, the ancestor of the word 'worry' comes from the Old English word 'wyrgan', which means ‘to strangle.’ In the 16th century 'worry' began to be used to mean to assault verbally,’ and in the 17th century the word took on the meaning ‘to bother, distress, or persecute.’ It was a small step from this meaning to the modern definitions ‘to cause to feel anxious or distressed’ and ‘to feel troubled or uneasy.’”

Worrying is obviously not pleasant, even it is actually an essential, normal, and instinctive emotion that has been hard-wired into humans to help us survive since we rose out of the primordial muck (Ooo I wonder what was in that muck, I hope nothing nibbles my toe. Ahh I think I just ate some!). Generally speaking we worry about things because we see them as a threat to our normal existence and worrying about it causes us to focus on it and protect ourselves from that particular threat.

Let’s face it, real and present dangers to our health, well being, and livelihoods do exist and you want to be aware of them and take the necessary steps to protect yourself from them. You want to take reasonable precautions against illness, injury, and accident. So clearly, some form of worrying is good for us. Unfortunately, worrying can all too easily morph from that healthy, practical form of concern and vigilance to a preoccupation with stuff that isn't.

These are the worries that can cause you to obsess about so many things that are very unlikely to ever happen, that they interfere with your worrying about the stuff that might. It's these worries that can, return to the original Old English meaning of worry, metaphorically they strangle you. So, basically what I'm saying is, worrying has been making us feel miserable since we began walking upright, even if it has also ensured our survival.

Unhealthy worrying (when it goes beyond concern to protect yourself and makes you miserable) is all about negative, obsessive thinking, doubt, physical anxiety, and fear. This type of worry is actually a symptom of other problems and so becomes a problem in itself. It usually comes from the emotional baggage we pick up and hold onto as a child and a deep, often unconscious belief that you won’t be able to protect yourself, stuff like:

Insecurity: (“I live in a scary world.”)
Perfectionism: (“If I make mistakes, I am a failure.”)
Need for control: (“If I lose control, I bad stuff will happen.”)
Social comparison (“People don't like me and think I'm an idiot.”)
Pessimism (“Bad things are just bound to happen to me.”)
Low tolerance for stress (“How can I protect myself if I’m this stressed out!?”)

Of course all of this baggage isn’t black-and-white, it's not like you either have them or you don’t; rather, we all carry some of it around with us to different degrees. The question is though, is whether our worrying is healthy or not. The way to tell which worrying you have is to ask yourself the following questions:

Do you worry about things that are not immediate threats?
Do you spend more time anxious than relaxed?
Are you usually unhappy or happy?
Do you have difficulty enjoying yourself because you worry so much?
Are you unwilling to take reasonable risks?
Do your worries interfere with your normal life?

If you answered ‘no’ to the above questions, then you’re likely to be a healthy worrier, so keep doing what you’re doing because you know what the real threats are. However, if you responded ‘yes’ to the questions, then you are probably an unhealthy worrier and you’ll want to take some steps to relieve yourself of that unnecessary burden. Sadly, there is no wonder pill that will magically relieve you of your worrying but there are some things you can do to reduce the problem.

The best place to start is to address the cause of your worry. If you can figure out what precisely you are worrying about, then you’re in a position to find a solution to it. In the short term, you can also increase your awareness of what the most common sources of worry are for you (e.g. work, family, relationships, or money). If you understand your worries, they can become . . . well, less worrisome. You can actually start looking for way to help ease your worries.

Another thing that can cause the volume of your worrying to go up several notches is to worry about worrying. It's true, this is a real thing! You can actually make yourself even more miserable by thinking that you are the only one in the world who worries about the things you worry about. So if you can accept that worrying is just a normal part of life and everyone does it, maybe we can keep the volume of our worrying to a more manageable level.

Sometimes of course there is no immediate solution to the worrying and you just can’t get your worrying out of your mind. In this case, the best strategy is to distract yourself the best you can from whatever the worry might be. Whether that is reading a book, watching a movie, or hanging out with friends, if you’re focused on other activities, you’re bound to worry less. Basically if you can do things that oppose the worrying, namely, anything that makes you feel positive, happy, excited, or relaxed, you will counter the negativity and anxiety that accompanies the worrying.

A wise man once said “There are only two things in life which we worry about. Things that we can do something about, and things that we can't. And there's no point in worrying about the things we can do something about, because we can do something about them. And there's no point in worrying about the things that we can't, because we can't. (Okay, it wasn't a wise man, it was me. But still).

In the long term, you could explore the causes of your deeper worrying. If you can directly “unpack” your baggage you can free yourself from the heart of your worries. Admittedly, this process can be difficult and very time consuming, but the rewards are powerful and will last a lifetime.

Or, you could of course just take the sage-like advice of the singer Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Santa's 'The Tuesday'

Santa was cross, he'd had a bad day.
The elves were on strike for more overtime pay.
They'd all been on strike since the end of October,
and all turned to drink, not one of them sober.

And Donner and Dancer and Cupid and Blitzen
had gone off in a 'hoof' since early last Whitsun'.
His lights wouldn't flash and his bells wouldn't ring,
his Jing wouldn't Jang and his Jang wouldn't Jing.

After asking Mrs. Claus for the weather forecast,
he hoped Christmas present would become Christmas past.
Global warming had meant there'd be no snow this year,
so she'd said with a sigh, "There'll just be 'rain dear!"

On top of it all, he'd got the presents to sort
and political correctness had made the task fraught.
No dolls for the girls or guns for the boys,
nothing that bangs or pollutes with it's noise.

No harm to their teeth from a sweet or a lolly.
Nothing sexist or racist, like a Barbie or Golly!
No books on religion or to do with the body,
no 'Famous Five' and nothing on 'Noddy'!

No caffeine filled drinks to cause tension and stress.
No glue and no paint, because of the mess.
No jigsaws with pieces that some kid could choke on
and nothing too fragile that would only get 'broke-on'.

No feathers or fur and nothing of leather.
Nothing too simple and nothing too clever.
Nothing too violent and nothing too scary.
Nothing Royalist or 'Gay', not a Queen nor a 'Fairy'!

Nothing with e-numbers or colourings that might,
bring them out in a rash or be hyperactive all night.
No balls and no bats which could injure or bruise,
and nothing with bits they were certain to lose.

No marbles or beads that a small child could fit,
up its nose, in its ears or unmentionable bits.
And trees must be from a sustainable source,
and the lights must be energy saving, of course!

And gone were the days when all they would wish,
was an apple, an orange, or a rod made to fish.
These days an Xbox, an iPad, or a giant TV,
was all that they asked for when they sat on your knee.

And he was tired and fed up of appearing so jolly,
and he knew what he'd like them to do with their holly!
He was sick of clambering about on all those roofs,
now he wasn't so nimble as he was in his 'yoof'.

He hated those people who said, "No pets at all,
a puppy's for life not for Christmas", they call.
Well it's OK for them with their fine protestations,
but what can I do with five thousand Dalmations?!!

Though, in spite of it all, by the end of the night,
he'd still manage to give every child something right.
Then he could sit by the fire with a big jug of beer,
and wish you all, "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"