Paul McNamee: Stop moaning. Early festive cheer can do a power of good

"Nothing sharpens the mind more than children illustrating their idea of Christmas while living in a homeless hostel"

Do you hear that noise? It’s a low, rumbling murmuring; a non-specific growing grumble. It’s seasonal.

That is the sound of general hurrumphing and moaning that Christmas is starting too early.

It begins just as the John Lewis Christmas ad is launched, and follows a particular arc. The ad isn’t very good, it’s too expensive, who’s it for anyway, the clocks have just gone back, Christmas isn’t for months, this is all a con to take our money, damn it all!

Who doesn’t like to moan? The weather – it’s all wrong for this time of year. Twitter – they’ve changed the favourite tag to a heart. What are they playing at!! Cheese – this cheese price war is confusing.

On such big thoughts do modern sensitivities rest.

Let’s bring on Christmas in all its gaudy, glittery glory

But moaning about Christmas starting early – get over it. In fact, let’s get into it. Let’s bring on Christmas in all its gaudy, glittery glory.

We’ve been running a competition to design The Big Issue Christmas cover. We encourage kids, of 13 and under, from across Britain to create a cover. We then (somehow) settle on just one image. Entries have been flying in.

They’re great, truly. There is nothing bad about being presented with mail that features a reindeer painted with enthusiasm by a seven-year-old.

This week we received a number of entries from kids who live in a homeless hostel.

Just let that sink in.

Nothing sharpens the mind and puts self-serving gripes into context more than thinking about children, full of hope, illustrating their idea of Christmas while living in a homeless hostel.

I should also add here that none of the pictures were bleak or miserable or moany.

While too many of us are content, if not intent, on measuring new worth in Twitter retweets, there are families across Britain who have nothing and who are dealing in very different realities.

So let’s embrace Christmas. It may bug some people that it feels like a commercial gorging, a means of extracting cash, but there is something in it, something in that old idea of light-bringing that offers hope to kids in situations that you and me and most of the rest of us should be glad we’ve never had to face.

From November 16 we begin a run of Big Issue bumper festive editions. Not before time.

If you have any comments please email me at, tweet @pauldmcnamee, or send a letter to The Big Issue, 43 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 1HW