There is a big emphasis on spending time with family over the festive period, but what does this mean for those who have no family? Well last year Bisto launched a campaign where you give up a spare chair for the elderly and share your Sunday lunch with someone who would otherwise be eating alone. Sunday dinner is the one meal we all look forward to, where we sit down with firiends and family for good food and conversation. Yet for 1 in 7 older people, it is one of the loneliest times of the week, with over one million elderly people going days without communicating with anyone. So you can imagine how loneliness is a massive problem, especially around the festive period.
I live in the countryside, in a very small and rural village that is probably made up of around 180 people - 90% of which are elderly. We get on with pretty much everyone at our end of the village, but very rarely venture down where the majority of the older residents live. My grandma (who also lives in the village), likes to go to the local coffee morning and regularly chats to a lady who's husband had died several years ago. My grandma being my grandma, instantly invited here over for Christmas dinner as soon as she found out that she usually spends the day alone. She didn't stop to think about the logistics, or the fact that she wasn't even hosting the dinner (my mum always has everyone over to my house and we cook for everyone), she just invited her along!
At first we were all a bit skeptical, we hardly knew this woman, yet she was going to be sharing our special day with us. Eating our food and joining in with our little family traditions. I remember being terrified just before she arrived, I thought she might ruin the day. I thought everyone would feel too awkward to talk, and what if she didn't like the food! What would we do then? But as soon as she arrived the day just seemed to flow. We got her a drink, we gave her a present, we sat down for dinner. Conversation flowed and she loved the food - she even asked for a few of our recipes. She stayed, watched a film with us, we gave her a little doggy bag and she went home! We enjoyed having her over, and she enjoyed being with us! I'm pretty sure she's coming back again this year!
So all I'm saying, is just spare a thought for those who aren't as fortunate as you this Christmas. I'm not saying that you have to scour the streets looking for someone to have over for Christmas dinner, but if someone you know (or even someone you don't) happens to mention that they are spending the day alone, just consider sharing your day with them.