Charles Handy says Boxing Day should be a day for charity
Many years ago, our Christmas festivities had to be totally reorganised. Our nine-year-old son was head chorister in a cathedral choir and Christmas Day for him was already fully booked with church services. So we decided to make Christmas a religious day and Boxing Day the time for family and presents.
And so it was. First a day of endless Christmas carols, redeemed by the fact that it was our little boy who was singing them. And then we left for our home in Norfolk, with the car full of presents and the rest of the family.
And when we got there, everyone piled into the kitchen, ovens were turned on, food was prepared, presents were stacked under the tree and the Christmas festivities began.
In the end, we reckoned it was successful. The religious side of things was done properly without being contaminated by the thoughts of the meal awaiting us. Duty done, we could celebrate without a feeling of guilt.
But it wasn’t quite as good as in the distant days, when I was a little boy at home, in the Rectory in Ireland. Boxing Day was when we took cardboard boxes of food, vegetables, chocolates and oranges up to slum parishes in Dublin.
I would be told to carry the boxes up to the front door, ring the bell and then, in a very embarrassed way, hand over our Christmas box. I think it was much appreciated, though it was always just taken with a nod of, “Oh, thanks.” But we felt good about it anyway.
Originally Boxing Day was when they took the boxes in the churches, to which we had all contributed during the year, and distributed the money to the poor of the parish. In this we were doing something similar, giving food boxes to the poor of another parish, from the rich farmers of the countryside.
I wonder if we shouldn’t rethink our priorities – Christmas Day for religion, Boxing Day for boxes, or money for the poor, and a celebration meal for ourselves. Then we could all feel well fed and virtuous at the same time.
Hoping you had a lovely Christmas somehow and looking forward to an exciting year for you all.