Loneliness at Christmas and the John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015
by Hannah Knight
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage kindness and compassion towards the lonely.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the John Lewis Christmas advert 2015 and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.10 minutes long.
- You could ask some students to read a section of the assembly or a selection of Christmas poems (an example of a poem can be found at: www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/christmas-time), but this is optional.
- The following organizations and websites may be useful to mention at the end of the assembly for further ideas as to how the students can help people at Christmas:
- Crisis, which operates Crisis at Christmas, at: www.crisis.org.uk/pages/volunteer-christmas.html
- Homeless UK, at: www.homelessuk.org/details.asp?id=QA40
- Age UK, at: www.ageuk.org.uk
- Community Christmas, at: http://communitychristmas.org.uk
- You may also like to show a remake of the John Lewis advert that may be thought appropriate for church schools. It is 2.04 minutes long.
- Choose a Christmas song and have the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
- Ask the question, 'Why are people lonely during the Christmas season?'
Show the John Lewis Christmas advert 2015.
Ask the students if they can explain what message the advert is trying to convey. Listen to a range of their responses.
- Explain that the advert is encouraging us to put other people before ourselves at Christmas and make them feel loved and appreciated. Christmas should be a time for joy, not sadness, but, unfortunately, for some people it can be a very lonely time of year.
Point out that, for many people, the lead up to Christmas is an incredibly busy time. People are busy buying presents and special food, children are performing in Christmas shows and families are taking part in festive activities. With everyone being so busy, it is not surprising that some people are left feeling rather lonely.
- Explain that the cold weather and long winter nights are also reasons for people feeling more isolated at Christmas. Elderly people are the most vulnerable in the cold weather as they feel the cold more than we do. Many stay inside and might not see anyone for days at a time.
- Express the opinion that one of the reasons Christmas Day is so special is because it brings people together. Without other people such as family, friends and neighbours, Christmas would be a very dismal occasion indeed. Last year, approximately 4 million people in the UK spent Christmas Day alone! There are many reasons for this, but one thing is certain, we can all make a difference to someone’s Christmas, if we put our minds to it!
- Making someone feel loved at Christmas is far more rewarding than any present you may receive. The person could be a grandma, Grandad, next door neighbour, homeless person or just someone who looks very sad. Simply checking in on an older neighbour regularly, popping a card through someone’s door or having a chat with someone at the shops only takes a moment and can make a real difference.
- Here is a list of other suggestions of things we could do to make someone feel loved this Christmas.
- Volunteer for a local group or church that provides Christmas services for the elderly, bereaved, sick and people without families.
- Offer to help an older person with his or her shopping.
- Ask older people about their memories and experiences of Christmas.
- Spread some cheer at a nursing home or children’s hospital with your bingo, singing or reading skills.
- Make a hamper for a homeless person.
- Donate some money to charity.
- Give some of your toys and clothes to people in need.
- Write out cards or drawing pictures to show people how much you appreciate them.
- Give someone who looks sad a big smile!
- Challenge the students to think of as many ways as possible to make someone feel loved this Christmas. You can mention the organizations and websites listed in the 'Preparation and materials' section as sources of ideas and if students wish to volunteer for various initiatives.
- Remind the students that, unfortunately, loneliness does not happen only at Christmas - it is something we need to be alert to and help people with all year round.
Time for reflection
Close your eyes and think about what makes Christmas special for you. Think for a moment about the people in your life who make you happy and stop you feeling alone.
Let us be thankful for the gift of living together with others, the ability to love and be loved, the opportunity to experience the everyday wonders of the world, sleep and water, a mind that thinks and a heart that feels. Let’s also be thankful for community spirit and how we can think of others before ourselves.
Christmas song of your choosing