When you think of Christmas dinner, what do you picture? A table laden with food? Family members fighting over the last roast potato? Audible groans at those terrible Christmas cracker jokes?
Whatever Christmas dinner means to you, for most people, it’s spent with loved ones, some of whom you might not have seen for a while, and others you just can’t get rid of!
But for hundreds of people in our community, a house full of people is not what they’ll experience this Christmas Day, with many unable to leave their homes to visit friends or family, or some whose family are no longer with us or who do not live locally.
There is, however, some hope for local people who are facing that kind of Christmas this year.
MyBus manager Mary Parry, and a group of highly dedicated volunteers, will be welcoming around 10 local people to their premises at the former Scoonie Bowling Club, for a slap-up Christmas lunch with all the trimmings.
And anyone who might be alone this Christmas is welcome to join them.
“We started this three years ago, and it is really good,” said Mary, who runs the transport service throughout Levenmouth, as well as five lunch clubs per week at the bowling club.
“We’ll go and pick people up, bring them here for Christmas lunch and everyone gets a wee present too. We all sit round a big table so everyone feels included and we’ll play some music and have a great time.”
Mary explained that for many of the people already signed up, Christmas could have been a lonely time.
“The people coming were going to be on their own for a number of reasons; some don’t have family living locally anymore and others have lost people, but they can come here and get a bit of companionship.”
Mary, who set up the MyBus transport service in 2009, has always offered help to others at Christmas, and said it started as a youngster.
“We did a sort of ‘adopt a granny’ thing, where you had an older person come and stay at Christmas when I was young, and I’ve always been involved with things like this, even when I lived in South Africa, so it’s just something I like to do,” she said.
“Christmas can be hard for people, because you have to listen to everyone else talking about how busy it will be and how they will see family, which can be horrible if you don’t have anyone.
“At this time of year, we have to remember not everyone has somewhere to go, and I’d urge everyone to have a think about their neighbour or that person down the road and maybe consider making them a plate or offering them a place at their table.”
One of the local residents who will be going along to Scoonie on Christmas Day is 89-year-old Larry, who has been volunteering at the lunch clubs for the past 12 months.
“I’ll come along and help to set the table if they need me, and I’ll get my lunch too,” he said. “I usually spend Christmas with my daughter, but she’s going on holiday this year, so it’s good I can come here.
“It’s extremely important that there’s someone like Mary doing this and it’s very considerate.”
Of course, it won’t just be Mary offering the meals on the day, as she has a dedicated group of volunteers helping out on the day, from driving to serving food.
“This place relies on them completely,” said Mary. “This Christmas lunch, and all of the lunch clubs could not happen if they didn’t help out, they are the salt of the earth; what else can I say? The fact they give up so much of their time is absolutely selfless.
“It’s local people helping local people, and that’s what it’s all about.”
If you would like to attend the lunch on Christmas Day, or know someone who would benefit, call MyBus on 01333 429066. There will be a minimum charge, and those attending can be picked up and dropped off on the day.