One of the things that can happen at this time of year is a slight twist of consumerist disgust. Despite the pleasure of choosing the exact lovely item for the exact lovely person, the avalanche of shopping and advertising and spending and buying may, by this stage, seem rather excessive and even oddly wrong. As yet another advertisement comes onto the television, one may cry: where is the true spirit of Christmas? (It is usually at this stage that I decide crossly to give goats to Africa in the name of my godchildren, instead of what they really want, which is iTunes vouchers.)
I have found that an effective and most excellent corrective for this curdled feeling is to donate to a well-chosen charity. Giving at this time of year is wonderfully mutually beneficial. The cause you support has a happy Christmas, and you may rid yourself of any first world, overindulging, materialist guilt, and enjoy your presents in peace.
HorseBack UK is a charity for whom I write. It’s a brilliant organisation which uses horses to help rehabilitate wounded servicemen and women, from double amputees to those with acute post-traumatic stress. The work they do is really interesting, incredibly imaginative, and amazingly effective. They are also very, very nice people. If you go to their website, you will find a Just Donate button, where you may easily contribute using only the miracle of the internet. For a few pounds, you can have the glorious feeling of helping a tremendously good cause. You can make an actual difference in the lives of people you shall never meet, and if that is not the true spirit of Christmas, then I don’t know what is.
You can find them here: http://horsebackuk.org/
And on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/HorseBack-UK/197483570567?fref=ts
Here are some pictures I have taken of them this year: