Christmas

So with halloween over and Guy Fawkes night almost upon us, we are now entering the Christmas rush, when shops start selling like mad as frantic customers venture out into the cold, dark streets to buy presents for family and friends, big gifts, little gifts, special gifts for that special person and stocking fillers.

A few years ago, a survey showed that the Scots are actually the most generous people in Britain but that Yorkshiremen lived up to their miserly reputation.  Then a couple of years later another survey showed that the people of Yorkshire are the most generous but that the Scots lived up to their reputation.  So is this just a case of you-can-prove-anything-buy-surveys?  Well actually, no.  The surveys contained a lot of useful information once you actually looked at their methodology.

The first survey – in which the Scots came out on top – looked at how much people spent on Christmas presents. The Scots led the country at £401 (this was quite a few years ago) whereas our friends from Yorkshire averaged a mere £80.  But in the second survey, the basis of comparison was how much they gave to charity.  And here the roles were reversed, with the Yorkshire people showing as the most generous and the Scots coming out as misers.

But this all serves to illustrate a very good point made many years ago by James (the amazing) Randi when he dismissed palmists, astrologers, dowsers, tea leaf readers and phrenologists et al over their alleged ability to discern human traits from unscientific and obviously irrelevant “evidence.”  He pointed out that it is meaningless to say that some one is “generous” not only because it is what most people want to hear, but also because people can be generous in some respects and mean in others.  The same can be said of intelligent, friendly, courageous, introvert, extrovert or any other human characteristic.


But to return to generosity and Christmas, I would venture to suggest that it is a time when lonely people yearn not for others to be generous, but for the kind of human company that would enable them to be generous – i.e. some one to buy Christmas presents for and some one to go Christmas shopping with.  Of course one can treat oneself to an iPad, iPod or iPhone or an amazon Kindle or any one of the countless gadgets or celebrity books or cookbooks that flood the shops at this time of year.  or even go on a holiday abroad.  But it’s not the same as having some one to share it with.

At least if your a Scotsman.