Tag Archives: Christmas


Having fun togetherChristmas and the New Year are times of celebration and fun in our society, mostly at any rate, and whether or not you’re religious, there’s a lot of fun to be had. In relation to prepping, it’s a good time to think about community, and what that means. Does that mean the people in your street? Is it local people who share some of your aims? Is it a set of people all over the UK, all over the world, even? Of course, community is all of these things.

And we all need communities, whether they’re in person or online. Humans are social animals, we gather together to share, in good times and in bad. “It takes a village to raise a child”, is one way of saying this. “The Blitz spirit” is another, possibly. And local voluntary organisations are another way still of finding a community with which to share.

An example that I’ve found recently, in my own town, is a Christmas Tree Festival: dozens of decorated christmas trees all casually laid out in a central building. They happen to be in a church, but they could be anywhere. Little groups of people came together to make them – primary school classes, pensioners’ groups, local firms, local voluntary groups, faith organisations, sports groups, all sorts. And the total effect was stunning, accompanied by live organ music, in a very dramatic arena.

So, what does that represent? Community, that’s what. The groups that decorated the trees. The group that coordinated the festival. The skills that were learned or practised to make the decorations. The way it was advertised all over the county. All the people who went to see it (and often they met with people they knew in other contexts – again, building community).

One person, one family, they can’t do everything, the first biggish emergency will prove that to you. One family that’s always alone can’t even thrive, not really – that social need will always come to the fore, sooner or later, whether it’s for the fun of a midwinter festival, or surviving another Beast From The East. The need for more skills and strength than one family can possibly possess will also come to the fore, at some point. And building community before you actually, desperately need it is one of the best preparations for the future you could ever make.

Air ambulance

The enjoyable part of all this is contained in that Christmas Tree Festival, and it really was purely for fun, of course. You can see from the main photo how wonderful it looks, 80 or so Christmas trees of all sorts of different colours, all crammed in to a single building. It was splendiferous. But the skills and co-operation are real, and they could very easily be adapted directly in time of need, when prepping might be a matter of life and death. Notice that the local Air Ambulance is represented.

All those skills, and all those contacts and organisations could be used during floods, power cuts, storms, snow, and terrorist attacks too. And of course they’re used constantly in everyday life too, for smaller day to day events, whether they’re positive or negative (having a picnic together, or sharing lifts in a car when there’s a transport problem).

Give and take is essential in the long term, and most people prefer it that way. There are always some exceptions, whether they’re people who don’t like to accept help or people who expect to be helped no matter what the inconvenience to others. That doesn’t really build community, of course, it just makes other people wary of helping someone like that. At the very least, it’s good to learn who those people are before you absolutely have to know. In very bad times, hard decisions would have to be made about people like that. We’re not there now, and maybe we won’t ever be, but it’s got to be good to understand the situation.

So, you can sow the seeds for that this winter, with little things. It’s not the right time of year now to send Christmas cards, of course, but maybe you send New Year cards, or thank you notes. Maybe you stop to chat with a neighbour when you’ve only ever said hello before. Maybe you shovel someone’s path clear.

Maybe you volunteer for work that’s needed locally. Litter picking, park maintenance, even library worker. Anything that fits in with the way you think about prepping. Less litter is good for your kids and the local wildlife, discouraging other potential litter droppers. A park is good for your kids and for you: they can run around, you can loll about and you might find or help plant some edible perennials in there. Libraries literally are founts of knowledge – some of that knowledge could be related to prepping in some way.

And tonight is New Year’s Eve, when many of us will peak the evening by singing Auld Lang Syne – remembering old acquaintances, old friends. Singing about how important it is to respect your links to your friends, your community. And making toasts to the future.

I make a toast now, to you all: to your health and happiness. See you on the other side.


The Christmas Tree Wall Hanging



The main picture is of a little wall hanging I have, made for me by a lady in her 80s. Its intricate and beautifully detailed, and a lovely thing to have, but its also a useful reminder about prepping in terms of the community at large.

The second picture is a detail of the reverse, to show how she engineered a really simple way of making a little “rail” to support the picture as a whole, and to provide a lengthy attachment that could be used with a hook. I love this: she used two thin knitting needles, and sewed them into the fabric of the hanging, you can just see the painstaking hand-stitching.  This is what any good prepper does: minimal work to adapt the resources at hand, so the job gets done with a minimum of fuss.

Most elderly people are women, but some are men, of course they are, and the generation currently in their eighties were the last generation in the UK – currently, at least – to be conscripted. Those gents sunning themselves in the beer garden or taking a little walk in the park, they may well have skills that you really, really didn’t expect to find. Don’t underestimate them, any of them, male or female.

Because of our ageing population, older people make up an increasingly large part of our numbers. And quite a few of them are pretty healthy, even in their 80s. This wall hanging is a reminder that even though they don’t have the physical strength or stamina of younger people, many of them still have skills and knowledge and dexterity, and will be willing to help in all sorts of ways in emergencies.

Those emergencies might be ordinary, everyday emergencies today – passing on messages, feeding the dog, being in the house to take in a delivery, watering the plants, collecting the post, that sort of thing.

But if times got really hard, for instance if the economy collapsed and local communities had to become more self reliant or go under, they might be called upon to do all sorts of other things. Here are just a few:

– providing space – to store goods, to grow young plants of various sizes, or even to have people bunk with them for a while, if need be.

– babysitting/watching the children.

– teaching.

– monitoring radios.

– monitoring solar battery chargers.

– cooking.

– darning and mending.

– information on local people and resources.

There’s a bit of a philosophical point as well: what kind of society do you want your kids to grow up in?  How would you want to be treated if you or your kids are ill, or get an injury, or you manage to survive what life throws at you and you just get old?    We’re all looking after each other, in the long term.

Health, wealth and happiness to us all.