I’ve always loved Christmas. My earliest memories probably go back to when I was seven or eight years old, bundling into our family car on the last Friday of the school term, and heading up to Norfolk to spend the season with relatives and friends. For me, it’s all about maintaining traditions: carols by candlelight, Secret Santa, mulled wine, Christmas tv, rushing around the shops on Christmas Eve to buy poorly thought-out presents followed by a late-night spent wrapping, tagging and placing them under the tree, Sunday morning church, an indescribably large lunch that always arrives about two hours later than planned and an evening spent recovering from the meat sweats, with a glass or two of Baileys. Ahhh – Christmas. And I’m very much looking forward to repeating this blueprint in a couple of weeks’ time.
Last year, for the first time ever, I broke those traditions and spent Christmas away from my family. My job at the time required me to be in Barbados for the festive season. (Yeah, I didn’t expect much sympathy) But despite the beauty of my surroundings – the clear water, blue skies and white sandy beaches – I would have swapped them in an instant for a grey sky, cold winds, snotty nose and a few days with my loved ones.
This weekend we recorded the Christmas episode of the Justice and Coffee podcast. I asked my guests, Charlotte (Know The Origin) and Esther, (Manumit Coffee Roasters) what their favourite Christmas films were; they returned the question. I ended up settling on Die Hard, as a ‘manly’ alternative to the romcoms they’d both suggested. As you may imagine, that comment went down like a cold brussel sprout, and I was quite reasonably reprimanded for my use of jurassic gender stereotypes. If I were a politician, I would probably say that I’d been put on the spot and had since come to deeply regret my comments. Fortunately I’m not, but on reflection I think I would still change my choice and go for the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, probably the Muppets version.
I find the film both romantic and stirring. Few stories better capture the melancholy of comparing two different worlds at Christmas time. One of wealth, privilege and abundance; the other of poverty, suffering and fear. Careers in the executive protection industry and the charity sector have allowed me to witness both of these extremes; indescribable wealth and untold suffering. Ultimately, Dickens’ tale is one of redemption, as Ebenezer Scrooge, the villain of the piece turns hero, following a night of revelations brought about by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morn full of thanksgiving for what he sees as a new chance at life; a life that finds joy in giving rather than taking, where the richness of living in community with others is his abundant reward. Every time I watch it, I’m reminded to spend both my money and my life generously and in the warm company of others.
This week, as part of the Big Give campaign, all three of our beneficiary charities (IJM, Unseen & Justice & Care), will be able to double whatever they raise between the 2nd-7th of December. Thanks to our amazing customers and our generous partners at Clifton Coffee Roasters, we will be able to donate £500 to each of them. This means that from our first year of business, despite breaking even on the balance sheets, Blue Bear has still been able to generate £3000 worth of support for three amazing organisations fighting human trafficking and caring for survivors. Who knows how many lives will be positively impacted as a consequence?
And with that great news, all that’s left is to thank you for your continued support and wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, everyone.”
Written by Bryn Frere-Smith
Founder of Blue Bear Coffee Co.