I did my Christmas shopping yesterday, with my husband and daughter. We had a fun day out, spent enough but not too much money and hopefully bought some nice gifts that will be enjoyed by our friends and family.

In general, Christmas troubles me: the unrealistic expectations, the excess, the over-spending, especially in an economy with such a big and growing gap between the haves and the have nots and where animal welfare in agriculture is so poor.

I find it difficult to wholly get into the enjoyment of Christmas with these nagging doubts. I find myself shouting at the TV ads showing tables overflowing with cooked turkey, goose, chicken, bacon and sausages being sold for next to nothing. Where has that food come from and how and by whom has it been reared, slaughtered and processed at such a low cost?

I walk around Manchester aware of the contrast between the luxury goods in the shops, the busy restaurants and bars and the homeless begging on the street and families walking about in clothes too cheap to keep out the cold.

What can I do about any of this? What is the answer? Compassion at Christmas!

Finding the balance between Compassion for myself and for all the others at Christmas time.

I am a vegan and will be making my vegan Christmas pudding and cake this week. On Christmas Day we will have vegan haggis with our roasties, mash and veg – delicious! Then if I can encourage just one more person to explore a vegan or veggie option over the Christmas period, that will help lower the demand for meat, dairy and eggs. It’s not just animal welfare that is problematic in modern animal agriculture, it is also the impact it has on human health and the environment. After Christmas, is Veganuary, but more about that at new year!

I don’t mean to nag, but these things all trouble me.

FOOD-BANKI heard about a reverse advent calendar today. During December you buy or set aside some food, toiletries, toys, etc each day and then at the end of the month take them down to your local food bank. Check with your local food bank to see what they need and when they need it by. Reflect that a few years ago most of us had never heard of a food bank! What a lot has changed!

When I get home today, I’ll be starting my reverse advent calendar. Why don’t you, too? For more details, click here.

To get you in the Compassionate frame of mind try our new free Compassion Based Living app, available for Apple and Android devices. If Christmas is becoming overwhelming, why not go lie down and do a Compassionate bodyscan? If you are dreading a visit from an annoying relative, why not have a go at the aspiring, dissolving and equalising practice? If you are feeling a bit glum, try the limitless joy practice!

I hope the app and practicing Compassion helps you to enjoy this Christmas, or at least face it with more equanimity!

Kind Wishes


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