The Decembertide Roast 2016

Well,  we’ve finally made it here after a long and challenging year. The first Decembertide Roast and it’s on a big day itself!

Speaking of big,  looking back on the year we’ve certainly had big events occur both in real life and online affecting people across the world and challenging thinking for the future ahead.

With all this in the back of my mind,  I’m thankful this December time for one constant in my life that hasn’t changed –  family. We all have ‘family’  in different forms,  be it the one we’re born into,  the one were fostered or adopted into, our closest friends we can call brothers and sisters,  our fraternal or sororal relations or even our respective religious congregations.

Whilst my biological family is spread out all over the country,  Christmas is a time when we all get in touch and come together to wish season’s greetings to each other and to eat and drink and laugh too much.  It’s also a good excuse for a quick catch up to find out how everybody is doing on the occasion we’ve not spoken in a while.

For friendship,  Christmas can also be a good time with many of us in different places since leaving school and taking advantage of either my birthday on the summer and almost certainly my oldest friend Richard Dooley‘s birthday to enjoy a Christmas catch up.

When you look towards the other large  holiday that begins from today (thanks for the correction!), Hanukkah and Kwanzaa that begins tomorrow,  the theme of family is also crucial,  with celebrations happening daily that should always be experienced with the ones we love.

I realise though that not everybody has the same privilege of this (for sake of a better term)  ‘on tap’ and at this time of year,  we should always extend the hand of friendship.

If you have close family and friends you can keep in touch with,  regardless of your religious or non religious holiday, this time of the year is about spending it with them in some capacity, be it just a phone call, a Skype session or inviting them around for Christmas day (or just tea or you prefer). It’s often easy to forget,  particularly in our high speed 24 hour modern lifestyles and worth social media taking centre stage is easy to make an excuse that you’ll tag them in a post and say Happy Hanukkah/Christmas/Other holiday  and thinking that’ll do or just asking “Habari gani? ” and hoping somebody will reply to your tweet.  But as the priest in my mother and her partner’s Catholic Church said this morning in the Christmas Day sermon,  we sometimes need to simply stop to appreciate and to reflect.

Those we call our family are out closest connections. These are the people who will love you unconditionally and will morally  be the people that are always be there when nobody else is, so perhaps use this time of year to celebrate and cultivate those connections.

If you know somebody who might be spending Christmas alone this year,  why not invite them around for a bit. If you’re not quite comfortable inviting them into your home, then meet somewhere neutral like a café or a park. I’ve done part of Christmas alone before and whilst you get that Home Alone feeling for the morning, it really does suck later on. Nobody should have to deal with it if they didn’t choose to.

If you wish you could take an alternative route and  volunteer over Christmas and help make a complete stranger’s Christmas. Organisations and groups such as soup kitchens,  shelters The Salvation Army and religious organisations will all be out working on the big day and over the period to help those in need.  You never know you might just help yourself with that fuzzy feeling too.

Whatever your plans this year,  I really hope everybody has a wonderful and peaceful time this year full of love laughter cheer and celebration.

So Merry Christmas,  Xmas and  Happy Hanukkah and Habari gani for tomorrow, Seasons Greetings to all who’s celebrations I’m yet to learn of  and I wish you all a splendid Decembertide.


Wrapping Up

In the final week before Christmas, I’ve finally decided to make an effort to make my flat look a little bit festive in the downstairs area (despite not really getting visitors nor actually being here for Christmas itself), write cards, and do my shopping for family gifts. It’s also the time for me to actually put my plans into action so I can travel across the country and see said people over the holidays.

Online-wise, preparations are underway to write up as much content for those of you who  read the blogs  whilst I’m on the move and future planning for projects and content in the new year – more of which I’ll announce soon.

For many of you I’m sure it’ll be much of the same craziness  and more – getting those last few presents wrapped, ensuring you know where you’re going or what time people will be arriving on the big day –  who to phone and who will call you. Some of you might even be doing Christmas,  Hanukkah,  Kwanzaa or [insert your celebration here]  online with family and friends across the world.

Whatever your plans,  it’s important not to lose sight of it all. Yes, the weather seems to be taking its toll,  your Menorah seems to be mysteriously a candle short,  the 200 lamp tree lights went out thanks to a mystery fitting  and despite trekking out and braving the crowds  you’re panicking because your son or daughter has changed their mind again about something they want Santa to bring. The important thing is ensuring you have your time with your family,  friends and significant others and if you’re religiously or culturally aligned,  you remember the values and cultures of this December season.

Also once everyone inevitably decides to drop into a food coma,  drunken stupor or just melt into watching the specials on TV ,  or you’re bored of spinning the dreidel,  don’t forget to sign on next week as I will be posting a Christmas Roast. Don’t worry,  it won’t be (too much)  of a Queen’s speech or Alternative  Christmas Message,  but just a more festive post and of course a follow up on New Year’s Day.

For now I wish you a all a Merry Christmas (or  Xmas is you prefer),  Happy Hanukkah for those celebrating from the 26th onwards and for those celebrating Kwanzaa  (also from the 26th onwards),  “Habari gani?” To the rest of you celebrating smaller celebrations I’m yet to learn of,  or perhaps something a little more personal this December,  Seasons Greetings to you, and I’ll speak to you all again soon.


Projects of Awesome

Does it remind you of something?

This last month has been a pretty incredible one for giving.  I know charity events happen all the year round with some occurring monthly,  but there’s something about this time of year that makes it feel really special.  I’m not sure whether it’s just the historical values of events and telethons,  but this year has been really special for it.

For us in the UK,  it was the BBC’s first Children in Need last month  without Terry Wogan and whilst the content and operations  of this year’s show divided opinion online and I’m sure offline too, I won’t deny that the tributes were moving to a man who gave it his all since day 1 and the new award given is a great lasting tribute  in honour and memory of the attitude and drive he gave to the cause. We also had bonfire night in early November with many events around the UK raising money through these events to go to charities too.

In the last month I was fortunate to have time to see the YouTube based  charity  livestream by YouTuber Markiplier and co for the US based support platform Crisis Text Line which raised over US $110k,  as well seeing as a large portion of the network he’s under,  Revelmode, who held a stream including him and fellow network YouTubers Pewdiepie,  Emma Blackery and Jacksepiticeye raising over  $1.3m for the charity (RED) whom are dedicated to funding research in the fight to end AIDS and dropping on when I  could on the massive 48hr livestream by John and Hank Green and co,  better known by their YouTube name ‘vlogbrothers’ and  famous  Project For Awesome, which I had previously heard of years ago,  big only found out what it actually was last year and got the opportunity to catch it a couple of hours in onwards this year.  This project raised over $2m this year (at the time of writing) in its 10th anniversary,  most of which will go to user submitted and voted for charities in grants for the top voted ones (the remainder going to their nominated partners for the year) in the joint fight to help end “World Suck”.

I also know they’ll be many more events coming particularly with many carol services being charity oriented as well as well as the work of organisations such as the Salvation Army amongst many others  giving up their time to help those in need this Christmas not to feel alone or to suffer in silence.
With events like these, it’s hard to ignore in times like these that amongst all the hate and uncertainty many of us are facing there us still humanity out there working hard to keep people alive and either well or on the way to being so and it gives us hope that,  as Albus Dumbledore would put it that,  “Happiness can be found,  even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”.

Happy Sunday  everyone.

(Many) Holidays Are Coming

As we reach the end of the year, many national and international holidays alike for people are coming. With the launch of the many retail adverts (in the UK we had the Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, ASDA and Aldi ones hitting YouTube and TV screens nationwide) and the famous Coca Cola adverts (normally the year’s rendition of  ‘Holidays are Coming’ being the biggest one), it’s no secret that Christmas is on it’s way (though I think it’s still too early for decorations!!) as well as Hannukah for the Jewish also approaching. Following this there’s Hogmany for the Scottish and New Year to come. Previous to all of this too, there’s Thanksgiving this Thursday for the USA and Black Friday following for both us and the Americans. Finally, between all this there’s the Christian (but not public holiday) Observance December 8th for Canada for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Prophet’s Birthday for Muslims on the 12th.

So that’s plenty for the world to look forward to and it’s no wonder that this time of year is focused on family and friends.

I hope everyone that’s reading has some great plans to get together this year. I know it’s cliché to say, but let’s also spare some thoughts for those whom it might not be an easy option. Two years ago, I experienced what it was like to experience Christmas on my own due to a series of complex communications and bad timings. Albeit my experience was under completely different circumstances (I had food, presents and some contact with both parents and limited contact with my former partner – I won’t lie that it did get lonely through the day and I can’t even begin to imagine what those in far worse circumstances will be going through. So if you have time, do something special for those who may be facing struggle this season.

Be it inviting someone you know over for the celebrations to spend time with you, volunteering at kitchens for the homeless and less fortunate, saying prayers to your respective God(s) or giving to charities such as the Salvation Army who will be out supporting those in Need this December, any help will both be good for you and will really make someone’s Christmas this season (whether they meet you or it’s more of a Secret Santa). Just the same way Christians believe we were given the gift of God’s son over 2,000 years ago, we as people should extend the hand of family and friendship out to as many people as we can – especially to those whom 2016 hasn’t been their greatest year, just in the same way you surely hope you’ll be treated this season (no matter how selfless we all try to be!), whatever you celebrate.

Hope you all have a wonderful week, Happy Thanksgiving to you in the USA and be careful out there on Black Friday! (I’ll be sticking to the Internet personally).