But I am not going to stay in that position, those that we have lost wouldn’t want us to wallow in self-pity but to enjoy and live life. I plan to make sure I do. But in the midst of our celebrations have a thought. Age UK estimates about 450,000 will be spending this Christmas alone. A combination of the ageing population and the fact families are dispersed across the country - and abroad for that matter - means it is not always easy to get together. Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, says it is a "chilling" thought, which combined with the shorter days and poorer weather, results in the festive period being one of the most vulnerable times of year for the frailest in society. My aunt was very independent and lived alone until she broke her hip and needed to move to a nursing home to get extra care. When she was at home we as a family were blessed as she had very good neighbours. They would make sure she was alright and pop in to see her. So take a moment to think, is there a person in your street who is alone? They might not even be elderly, just on their own. When did you last see them? Are they alright? Maybe you have done nothing more than give them a nod. It would be embarrassing to go knock on their door, what would you say, maybe they wouldn’t want to be interrupted, see how quickly your mind dismisses a small act of loving kindness.
One great thing about this time of year is it gives us a valid excuse for making that small step. You could give them the best Christmas present ever by just dropping in to see them and wish them a Merry Christmas. You could mean the difference of life and death to them. I am always shocked when I hear of someone who has been found dead, having laid for over a week. The neighbours in that position must feel incredible guilt. It is a fact that the sense of community that I was aware of when I grew up has been seriously eroded. I could pontificate on the reasons for that but that won’t change things. It can only be changed one heart at a time. We, you, I can change that. It is a matter of choice, choosing to be a good neighbour. As Dickin’s classic “A Christmas Carol” reminds us, “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!” So why not take a moment this Christmas to put mankind at the top of your list!