As Santa’s bells rang out through the streets of Launceston on Saturday, not everyone was welcoming this heralding of the Christmas season.
The annual Christmas parade through the city’s central business district lights up young faces, and probably a couple of older ones, too.
But for some, it marks the start of the agonising season – not the festive season.
It is estimated that the average Australian will spend just over $1000 on Christmas.
About 60 per cent of people will save up money throughout the year to spend on gifts, food, and the rest of the festive trimmings.
For at least a month now, we have been bombarded by Christmas advertising.
Each year there seems to be more and more things that we simply must be in order to have the perfect Christmas Day.
For some in the community, this can be a continuous blow.
It is no secret that some people are worse off – financially – than others.
For most of the year they may be able to mask it well, going without here and there.
At Christmas, the gap shows.
It becomes harder to balance the books, with the daily costs of food, transport, housing, and bills, now squeezed tight by the obligations of flashy presents and lavish Christmas lunch spreads.
Charities do their best, providing a lunch on the big day for those who would not otherwise be able to afford a meal.
There are the regulars, they say, which is always a tough sight, year after year.
They say it is a different sort of tough to see those who have had to steel themselves, to present themselves and ask for help.
For some, it is the first time they are finding themselves in a position where they are asking for charity – something they had never envisaged.
That is what being a part of community is about. Sometimes you are the giver, sometimes you are the receiver.
Each year, The Examiner runs The Empty Stocking Appeal, which raises money to distribute among four Launceston charities: City Mission, The Benevolent Society, The Salvation Army, and St Vincent de Paul.
The money goes back into the community, turning Christmas into a blessing rather than a burden.
Donations can be made at The Examiner office in Launceston, and charity tins around the city.