From 'a simple Christmas' to a Woodbrooke haiku
‘A simple Christmas’?
I am angered by the urging to eat, drink and consume in gross quantities to which we are subjected this and every Christmas.
Please, Friends, would you make suggestions for some principles for ‘a simple Christmas’. For example:
- A simple menu for a ‘good’ Christmas dinner.
- A rough upper financial limit per person, which each family could agree to spend on food and drink during the Christmas period.
- An agreement about the amount to spend on presents for a child or adult (with the understanding that this is explained to those concerned beforehand).
- An agreement that presents should be bought from a charity shop for all family members. These can be purchased through the year and saved for the occasion.
- An understanding, if needed, that it should be explained to visitors to the household that the residents are adopting the principle of ‘a simple Christmas’.
- An undertaking to invite someone living alone to come for a snack or meal over the holiday period.
I believe that if more Friends could make it explicit how they practise principles for a simple Christmas, others would be glad to adopt them too, and at least some over-indulgence and waste might be avoided.
As a former offender, I write in support of the letter from John (26 October). It beggars belief that our government should seek to withdraw funds from Circles of Support and Accountability, a scheme pioneered in the UK by Friends, which then became an independent organisation called Circles UK in 2008. What about the financial saving achieved when former offenders desist from offending again, to say nothing of the human suffering avoided?
I sometimes think our government has no interest in preventing crime, merely in punishing it. I was an able but disturbed boy. Like most of my contemporaries, I received no guidance as to how I should comport myself in sexual matters. I realised I was homosexual before I had the language to talk about it. As a young man, ten years before my conviction, I sought guidance about the obsessive relationships that led me later on into breaking the law. I was scoffed at and given no help. Reading accounts of criminal trials, I often wonder at the lack of any reference to the early years of offenders’ lives, which might provide clues as to why some people grow up with mindsets that may bring them into conflict with the law.
I remember George Fox’s words on meeting a man on his way to the gallows: ‘Friend, what has brought thee to this?’ I wonder if people’s reluctance to ask this question stems from a realisation of its implications for childrearing – especially of boys, from whom many of the next generation of offenders will come.
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