The signs are there if we want to read them, but what they mean to each of us will depend on how open our minds and hearts are to receiving the message.
In my last post, I noted how the colour seemed to be draining from our communities, how the once vibrant and exciting offers of clubs and helpfulness were replaced by advertising about supporting us with debt. Whilst these exist still, Christmas does seem to have brought about some festive cheer.
They are dark times we continue to live through and speaking to people I meet in my day to day work it’s sad that a lot of them, including my own family, have said ‘I just can’t be bothered with Christmas this year.’ I get it. We’re still going to be at home as we have been for months, but in these dreary days we need something positive to hold on to, and whether you believe in the birth of Jesus or not (and I’m not going to get into a big bang of a debate here with anybody), this is a time when for a vast majority of people, they decorate their houses, forget the worries of the year, and look forward to something new. Surely, now more than ever, that’s so important for us to do.
I was pleased to see as I headed into town yesterday, the railings outside the local church have been decorated. I’d noticed a few bits of tinsel as I’d driven home from work, but walking by, I had chance to really appreciate it. What the church have done is provide a box with pens and wooden hearts on string and are asking people to write positive messages on them. I didn’t stop long enough to read them, which I should have really, but dotted in between the tinsel one stood out – the big bold letters of one word. HOPE.
That’s what we need this year. Hope. If nothing else, hold on to that word. What does HOPE mean to you? What does it look like after the year we have experienced?
Further on as I reached the High Street, I spotted a great sign outside a shop. I foolishly dithered and walked by without photographing it as I would have loved to have shared it. There’s a theme here. I need to slow down and stop more. The wording was simple and stuck with me – ‘Your High Street Shop Functions Like Your Brain. Use It or Lose It.’
Our towns are disappearing at a phenomenal rate. Big companies are taking over but what of the small businesses, like my own, who are made up of one or only a dozen staff? What’s to become of them? People who have dedicated their lives to providing a specialist service, a product that you need rather than one you think you do? The Covered Market is famed for its independent retailers and it was pleasing to see so many hanging in there, but there were a vast number that were firmly shut up, and many independents on the high street that looked as though the death bell had already tolled.
We need to pull together, we need to decorate our communities and breathe life and joy back into them, opening our hearts to a positive future, and supporting our fellow man (and woman) by buying local. Our local trades and suppliers know the areas they serve. Get to know them like you would have in days of old when you’d pop to the butcher or grocer and they knew you by name and what you had each week. Simpler times from what I read.
In the midst of the madness of Christmas shoppers, I got a tad flustered knowing what I wanted to buy next and which alleyway to take. Thank goodness for turning the right way. A massive pause button appeared in the form of the nativity, and in that brief moment, I knew I had to stop and take stock. On this occasion, I even made time to take a photograph.
Today, I urge you to stop, take stock, and really look at what is important in your life, and what your hopes are for the future.
If I don’t blog again before (because I’ve been a bit slow since last time due to various factors), may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and for those that do not celebrate (and even for those that do), I wish you many positive days ahead.
Header image JillWellington via Pixabay
Photo above Roy Peach