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Christmas: A time of joy or loneliness?

To reflect on the fact that Christmas is not a time of joy for everyone.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To reflect on the fact that Christmas is not a time of joy for everyone.

Preparation and materials

  • Lightly steamed Brussels sprouts encased in melted chocolate and left in a fridge overnight.


  1. Ask the students what Christmas is like in their families. Make a list on a flip chart/IWB. Talk about giving presents, excitement, being with the people we love and eating our favourite food, Chocolates on the Christmas tree, etc.
  2. Ask students to put their hands up if they like Christmas (most students, even when they have a troubled background, will look forward to Christmas). Beware, some students might find Christmas difficult as they have lost their loves ones. Be aware of your audience and have adults around to give sensitive support if necessary.
  3. Ask students: Who likes to eat chocolates at Christmas time? Show them the chocolate sprouts (but don’t tell them they are sprouts). Tell them they are going to try and built a world record for eating more than ten of these sweets in 30 seconds.
  4. Pick two students who have a good sense of humour and no allergies – perhaps two from your own class so you know for sure. As the students begin to eat, their facial expressions should tell the audience that there is something wrong! Let everyone into the secret (good idea to have a plastic bag ready for them to spit out into).
  5. Ask if anyone can see a point to what you have put their two peers through. Explain that while Christmas is a time of celebration and joy for most, there are many people who find this time of year cold, lonely and desperate.

Time for reflection

Think what Christmas would be like without a home, without a mum or dad or someone who looked after us.

Explain how the first Christmas would have been a very sweet moment as Mary welcomed the birth of Baby Jesus, but that she would have been very worried about the future, and lonely as she was away from her home and family.

It may be that your school can support a local charity at this time – such as the Salvation Army.

Lord, help us to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.


‘Lonely this Christmas’ by Mud, widely available to download.

Publication date: December 2010   (Vol.12 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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