Introduction to discussion Expresses the writer’s opinions.
We Norwegians are happy with our Christmas traditions. One of the most important of them is that we open our wallets to the poor.
Our celebration of Christmas is full of poignant stories of poverty and need. Since Joseph and Mary had been refused a room in the inn, a central part of the Christmas message was concern for those sitting at the bottom of the table. We have “The Girl with the Brimstone,” “A Christmas” by Carl Bertil Johnson, and “A Christmas Story” by Charles Dickens.
The bad thing about Christmas is of course knowing that there are a lot of people who cannot participate in the celebration.
Christmas is also a holiday of inequality. Ironically, when everyone has to do almost the same thing, our differences become more apparent.
The thought of families who cannot afford pork chops, a Christmas tree, or gifts for their children hurts us deeply. Not least because Christmas has become a shopping holiday for many others.
While some children are so spoiled that they barely have time to open all their presents, others spend the entire Christmas period dreading Christmas because they have nothing to show for it when they go back to school.
“I am very hungry”
When I started last year the Facebook group “Save Christmas for Normal People!” I asked people who had bad advice if they could talk about their own Christmas celebration. Thousands of stories poured in within days.
“I’m so hungry,” one mother wrote.
“Christmas will be here with us this year too, but this time because I don’t eat, and this way I’m saving money so we can have Christmas dinner. There will only be four presents under the Christmas tree, one for each of my children, but there will be presents and there will be food.” ! I’m looking forward to Christmas Eve! Then I’ll eat my fill!”
Fortunately, Norwegians are kinder at Christmas. Gifts pour in to volunteer organizations in December.
The Salvation Army, for example, says they live on income from traditional Christmas soup almost all year round. We hear the same thing from most other organizations working in the field of combating poverty. Local initiatives such as “Gi en Jul” in Stavanger or “Alternative Christmas” in Oslo help hundreds of poor people get into the Christmas spirit.
Politicians also meet when the peace of Christmas is about to descend.
After a long budget harvest, as almost as usual, no additional money was provided for the poor, an additional 1,000 Swedish krona appear in social assistance in mid-December (plus an additional 1,000 Swedish krona per child). Several municipalities have done something similar, including Stavanger.
This money usually arrives too late to be paid until January, but at least the poor know the money will come. The question then is whether they can afford to publish while politicians take the Christmas holiday with a slightly clearer conscience.
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This says a lot about us
Christmas starts early and early in Norway. Not least in the shops, which will already be enjoying a shopping spree come October. Then soft drinks and Christmas sweets will be on the shelves.
“Norway is a small country, and we depend on a certain length of sales period for Christmas goods to be profitable to produce and sell,” said Robert Ronning, communications director at Orkla. Aftenposten A few years ago.
His group made a profit of just $5.28 billion last year, so it’s understandable that they have to extract more from the Christmas orange to make it thrive.
It says a lot about us as a society that while the pre-Christmas shopping spree actually begins in October, we wait until well into December before we start thinking about the poor. Maybe it’s because we think of ourselves and our Christmas first.
Or maybe it’s because The Salvation Army and Poor House don’t have the same advertising budgets as Coop and Rema 1000.
In any case, we must turn things around this year.
Give this man a wheelchair
The food lines are about to run out of food
Stores can wait until December to put up Christmas decorations. But we must open our hearts and wallets to the poor now.
For example, it might make more sense for the government to allocate money to the poorest in the state budget that comes in two weeks, rather than wait until December 15 to look for a thousand funds for social assistance recipients.
It is not only at Christmas time that people are poor in Norway. People need food, electricity and housing year-round, and a dark January filled with bills can be as difficult as December for most people.
This week the new numbers came out Sifu Which shows that at least 100,000 Norwegians miss meals due to lack of money. In nearly 40,000 households, someone went an entire day without eating. As I write this, several volunteer organizations are telling me that food lines are running out of food.
So it happens in September, before the cold comes and before it heralds a December rate hike. This is a social crisis that we must take seriously before the first Sunday of Advent.
So my appeal to the government is to find “The Girl with the Brimstone” or “A Christmas Story” now. Read until your eyes grow wet, because this year Christmas should start in October. At least for the poor.
Otherwise we won’t be able to get through the winter.
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