With all of the cronyism and financial vulgarity that emerged yesterday at the PAC hearings into the squandering of money at the Central Remedial Clinic, one could be forgiven for thinking that donations to charities this year should be put on the long finger. Especially when money is so tight in every household.
In all of our communities right now, there are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, who have lost their jobs and are wondering how they are going to make it through the winter and out the far side. They know that there are just a dozen days until Christmas yet they have never been as badly prepared as they are this year. Thousands of homes will experience a Christmas the likes of which they have not experienced for some years.
For all of them, this new situation is coming as a shock. Their bodies go into shutdown, their minds try to come to terms with the new reality that money is not as plentiful and every decision will have to be calculated. The comfort of the Tiger years left them ill-prepared for it and now, although they know that it is a common situation, they do not know where to turn to for help. Factors such as pride prevent them from turning to others, letting people know the truth. And so many will sit in their nice negative-equitied homes, with their children going cold and hungry, rather than asking for help and sharing their situation.
In short, they feel that they have failed themselves and their families by allowing themselves to be sucked into this situation. These were the comfortable families of the Tiger period -- and these are the people who most of all this Christmas need to pick up the phone and call the St Vincent de Paul Society.
In this county, I have heard many examples of middle class families with fine houses, suffering in silence within, with no heating, power disconnected, jobs gone, pride in pieces. The people who for years gave generously to the St Vincent de Paul because they knew what sterling work they do, are now the families who need their help, but are just too damn proud to ask. Children are not knowing or understanding why it is that their lives have changed. And in such a vacuum, decisions are not rational. Problems seem magnified. And the prospect of a Taoiseach telling us all next Sunday evening that now the Troika has gone we will be fine, is of little consequence. It won’t butter the parsnips.
With the prevailing cloud of doom and gloom, people find themselves all consumed by it, unable to see a way out and unable to express their concerns for reasons of pride, shame. But there are people to talk to and help. The St Vincent de Paul will not be shocked by any request, so if you feel you need something to get you by this Christmas, do not suffer in silence. Get in touch with them.
But this comes at a cost, so we are appealing to those of you who are in the fortunate position of having a job and a steady income this winter, please give generously to the St Vincent de Paul collectors when they come calling over the next few weeks.
January always brings a new reality, so there is little point in getting yourself into debt over Christmas. Remember the important things in life are family and friends and Christmas should be seen as a time when those links are accentuated. It is never the toys and gifts that people remember when they look back, but the times spent in the company of family and friends. Give the gift of time this festive season and relax. In just over a week, the days will be getting longer again and before we know it, the Spring and all the rejuvenation it brings, will be upon us.