Christmas Day is almost upon us! Despite my best efforts, I do like quite a lot about Christmas. The very idea and atmosphere of Christmas is a positive one, one where we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and celebrate the joys of family and friends. However, this is not always the case. In the previous entry to this blog, Bronwyn noted how much we spend on gifts and other Christmas related items each year. People buy lots of gifts and lots of food that often are unwanted or go unused. Last year alone, almost £2.4 billion was spent on unwanted Christmas gifts. Christmas brings about large amounts of spending and consuming, despite the ethos of thinking of, and helping, the less fortunate. To use a clichéd phrase, the “real” meaning of Christmas, one that promotes love, good will to all, and is ethical in its practice, is not often seen. This is the purpose of these blog entries: to try and regain a sense of what Christmas really is, and how we can have an ethical Christmas. The previous entry covered gifts, cards, and trees. This entry will look into my favourite part of Christmas: the food.
Food is the best, and lunch on Christmas day is what I look forward to the most. It’s the chance to sit down with family and friends, enjoying a lovely meal and each other’s company. And it’s also something where one can be ethical too. “Trust the Tractor”, says the motto of Red Tractor, the UK’s largest food assurance scheme, and I do. Their logo, a fun wee red tractor, is a sign that food has been ethically and responsibly made. This covers not only the turkey or chicken, but also the vegetables too. Their website has a handy guide to all the different logos food might have. Look out for these sources for British food and the Fairtrade logo for food from further afield, from free-range turkey to well grown Brussels sprouts. Away from supermarkets, if you plan further in advance you could get a free-range turkey from a local butcher, supporting local business, and one could also go to the independent, ethical farmers markets around the city, if you feel so inclined. This is an easy way to regain the true nature of Christmas: a well-made, ethical, and environmentally beneficial meal.
Yet Christmas can also be a time where people cannot gather with family and friends, and where food may be a struggle to acquire. More often than not, we buy too much and create waste. The excess, or rather the money spent on the excess could be put to much better use. Organisations such as Glasgow City Mission and their equivalents in other cities run food banks where you can donate food. Another way to bring back the true, giving meaning of Christmas could be to spend less on food for your own meal, and use the extra money to get non-perishable items to donate. In doing so you help the less fortunate who may struggle in this season.
Furthermore, many people are not able to join together with family during the Christmas season, either due to distance or an issue that means it is not possible. Christmas is about love, and about friends and family. It’s about joining together, expressing joy that Jesus was born and joy at love and forgiveness he brought. Our actions at Christmas time should reflect this, and what better way to enact this love by inviting someone for Christmas lunch who may be lonely, or unable to be with family. If you know someone in that situation, a simple invite to a Christmas lunch may be one of the greatest expressions of love you can show, staying true to what Christmas should be.
My final, small point is related to waste. There will inevitably be stuff left over, not only food but also wrapping paper and trees. Be sure to recycle where possible, and finish leftover food. Turkey sandwiches never get old!
Food at Christmas is wonderful, and I hope that some of this will prove useful, either this year or in coming years. The true meaning of Christmas has been pushed to the back, but with changes in how we go about getting presents, trees, and food, Christmas can be what it should be.
And so from me, Merry Christmas!
Words: David Bain