HAVE you noticed that Christmas adverts have begun to creep on to the television?
The inevitable snow scenes, Christmas trees, and perfectly-wrapped gifts now pop up in the middle of your favourite show.
The shops have also started to sell their Christmas ranges.
The choice can be overwhelming, as can the pressure to provide a perfect Christmas for ourselves and those close to us.
It is easy to believe that we will be letting others down if we don’t have the perfect tree, with the perfect turkey, in front of a roaring fire with a mountain of presents.
Of course, for many people the reality of Christmas will be far removed from this image.
So it’s a good time for Churches Homeless Action – a network of local churches and agencies who support the homeless – to launch its annual Christmas voucher scheme.
It is a simple idea that arose from a recognition that all who are homeless often lack something we take for granted – the gift of choice.
So you can donate a gift voucher or card for £5 to the scheme, which is then given to one of 10 agencies or charities to share with their clients.
They include rough sleepers, those escaping domestic violence, those seeking refuge in this country, young people who have left home, and families in supported housing.
They can then choose to buy a gift for their child, or a nice meal, or even ring a relative or friend faraway.
You can also send a Christmas card and personal greeting to go with the voucher.
This reminds us that those who receive this gift are real people.
We recognise them as human beings, not simply ‘them’ or ‘a problem’.
Over the years the response from those receiving the cards and vouchers has been heart-warming.
And the generosity of those who donate has been amazing.
Last year we received £14,000 – and over the years we have raised more than £120,000.
So next time you see a Christmas advert, why not remember the choice that others won’t have, and think how you can share that precious gift with them.
If you would like to support our scheme this year, please send donations to St Mary’s Vicarage, Fratton Road, PO1 5PA or contact me for more details on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information go to portseaparish.co.uk.
Canon Bob White is vicar of St Mary’s Church, Fratton