My offical endorsement as Best Granpa in the UNIVIRS from Eva
I don’t want to boast but my Granddaughter Eva has officially declared me to be the best Grandpa in Dovedale Road? the South End? Liverpool, England, the World? No I’m the best Grandpa in the whole of the Univirs (I think her spelling will get better as she gets older!). Now you might think that this is a casual statement made by a child but you would be wrong. Everyone who knows her knows that Eva is always right!! She is the undisputed ruler of at least two households unless it comes to unimportant things like eating properly and bed time when she has to take second place to Mummy and Daddy!
So I am sure that you will be absolutely impressed by my new position and that you will all (especially Labour Councillors in the Chamber) listen to me with an enhanced respect. Though I suppose that going from no respect to just a little doesn’t take us far! But you may not be so impressed so let me tell you why I have opened my thoughts about Christmas with this little example. Every Grandpa and Grandma will tell you that there is no better Christmas present than they could receive than a card like this. At my age I am not too bothered by presents. I am very fortunate to have all that I need and almost everything that I want so material gifts are of little value, but the love of a small child is priceless.
I have been considering what people get out of the holiday and want their Christmas to be since Cllr Makinson and I held our normal 4.5 hour advice centre at Allerton Road Farmers Market last Saturday. I didn’t give all that much advice or receive that many problems but I did think I was doing a lot of therapy! Most people would tell me about their very complex arrangements. Meals for 12; Great Aunt Mary being picked up at 11 on the dot and returned home about 3.30 with someone having to stay sober to do the driving! Others would tell me about how they were going to their friends; or their relatives especially their children. Others would tell me slightly wistfully how they would skype their grandchildren in the antipodes or elsewhere.
When I told them what I would be doing on Christmas Day many people gave a very wistful response, “ooh that does sound so nice”. So what are Erica and I up to? Scuba diving in the Maldives? Slap up meal somewhere posh? Catering for 12 people at our house? Not quite. We will be having a very quiet lunch for 2 down at the allotment (weather permitting). I will as usual slave for all of 10 minutes putting the part cooked baked potatoes on the stove alongside our Bobby’s Bangers sausages. We will listen to Classic FM Christmas Carols and will no doubt manage a glass or two of something nice from Southern parts bought from Allerton Road Oddbins.
So what we will be doing on Christmas Day is being entirely selfish. Just the two of us taking it easy – no pressure – no hassle. Of course that is only one day. We will see loads and loads of our family over the other days. But I always remember being dragged around every holiday by my parents when all I wanted to do was play with my toys and read my books.
Thank goodness that Erica and I have a choice. There will be many couples and even more so single people who will be on their own. As Dickens observes in a “Christmas Carol”. Christmas is a time when want of food, drink and company are most keenly felt by those who are poor or who are alone. Somehow it seems worse when you know, or you think you know, that everyone else is having a whale of a time.
So please remember those people on Christmas Day. Give thanks for those who are volunteering up and down the Country to try and bring some light and joy into the homes of those who have very little of either. I will especially be thinking of those of other faiths who are giving presents; giving meals and giving entertainment to those of a Christian Faith or none who would otherwise feel so lonely on 25th December.
Remember also that many people work on Christmas Day. Two years ago I drove Erica around when she was Lord Mayor to meet some of those Christmas Day workers. We visited the Police, ambulance staff, fire service and hospitals before going on to join a Christmas Meal in St George’s Hall for people who would otherwise have been by themselves. I always remember on Christmas Day the meal we have with Mum when she was confined to hospital over Christmas for 10 days a few years before she died. Our society would not function without these people and others that I cannot possibly list here who give up their own festivities to care for us all and keep us all safe.
And lastly I remember you. So many people have given me support this year in the work that I do locally, national and globally; inside the Lib Dems and outside it. I feel blessed to have a family family! A local government family and a Lib Dem family.
Whoever you are have a good Christmas. For those who are Christians may your God bless you at this time. For those who are not may you take advantage of the peace and serenity which the Christmas period always seems to bring to our City and our Country. Or shall we just leave it to Tiny Tim as he sagely concludes, “God Bless us every one!”