My hat

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It may seem like a strange thing to do a blog post about and this isn’t just a challenge to see if I can blog about anything but it is something I have wanted to talk about this year on my blog.

For Christmas my wife got me a Dallas Cowboys beanie hat. Dallas Cowboys are my favourite NFL team and after 3 trips to the NFL in London this year for work, I would walk around with envy saying to myself I would love a hat like that after seeing many people wearing them in the colours of their various teams.

The perfect gift

I mentioned once to my wife how I loved the new NFL beanie range and thought no more of it. So I was blown away this Christmas when I unwrapped it. I was not expecting it as a gift whatsoever as I had only mentioned it once. I don’t want for much in life but when I see something I like I can get obsessive about it, so it was the perfect gift.

When people ask me what I want as a present for birthdays or Christmas I always struggle to know what to say because, like I say I don’t really want for much. I am the same when I have money to spend or am given money as a present I always struggle to find something that I truly want to spend the money on. All of this must make me a nightmare to buy presents for.

What it means

Now to some people a hat may be insignificant but to me it meant the world. With everything going on for someone to remember a brief conversation and get such a meaningful gift it meant more than any other present. It’s not always what your presents and possessions are, it is about what they mean and my hat means a lot to me and I wear it with pride. Not just because I like it and I like the Dallas Cowboys but because when I put it on I know I am loved and thought of.

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A fury over Sports Personality of the Year

One of my favourite shows of the year is BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. It is always essential viewing over the Christmas period for me, as I am a huge sports fan. Watching this programme is one of my many traditions over Christmas and it wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

This year the show has grabbed more headlines than any other year, with the nomination of Tyson Fury for the main award. The show is less than a week away but it looks like that before it goes to air a petition to have Fury removed from the shortlist will have amassed more signatures than a petition against bombing of Syria!

Not shying away

The BBC have been playing up the fact about the petition on their own website, trying to make the Fury out campaign to look farcical and to keep the publicity embers very much alight as they milk this publicity for all its worth. As the saying goes there is no such thing, as bad publicity but BBC would normally shy away from bad publicity and controversy.

I think the panel who selected Tyson Fury had to know what the reaction would been to him being nominated as would the BBC, so part of me thinks BBC must have selected him and let it stand whilst having in their mind that this would generate a wave of publicity. If viewing ratings are up this Sunday then the BBC will know they have done the right thing, but only time will tell.

Plan

I hope that the BBC hasn’t done this with a plan and an agenda, as they should be above that. The BBC has such a strong brand and image that I think that something like this would only tarnish it. The BBC is held to higher standards than any other media firm and they know this, so unless it does gain a huge audience increase then publicity stunts are just not worth it. A media organization which is funded by the UK tax payer should always be wary and careful of every decision they make, as without the government and the public, they would not be able to exist on the scale they currently do.

The events of the last few weeks won’t stop me from watching the show but I don’t know if others will vote with their feet and not watch this year. I don’t think Tyson will win and I think more people will vote for other nominees to guarantee this but it has been interesting to see for the first time the comments and views of a nominee being brought in to question for if they should be nominated or not. If Tyson hadn’t recently become a world champion in boxing this would not be the issue that it is, but that’s the joy of timing and publicity.

Christmas TV

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I remember as a child getting excited in the run up to Christmas, when the TV listing magazines would come out with the Christmas TV schedules. I would put a ring around the programmes and films I wanted to watch, then I would refer to it everyday to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I still do the same today as an adult but now instead of planning what to watch, I will put a ring around what I want to record and then set all the programmes I want to watch to record on my Sky Box, knowing that for most of them, I probably won’t get round to watching them until January.

DVR

Going in to the Christmas period I have had to do a cull on my Sky Box of all the things I will never watch again or get round to watching, so I have space for the Christmas period viewing. Over Christmas I will probably spend time catching up with the 44% worth of programming that made the cut and that is currently clogging up my Sky Box before I get to what is recorded over Christmas.

On top of this I have super long watch lists on streaming services like Netflix that I usually like to catch up with over Christmas. Christmas is a time of year where every provider of programming is after your attention and although I have lots of time off over Christmas it is a time of year where my viewing pile normally goes up and not down.

A time to binge

For many, Christmas is a time to binge on food and drink but I think now it is becoming a season to binge on media and it is a time where I will do most of my so called “binge viewing”, where I will try and catch up with some series that I have missed this year. That’s the great thing about having a long holiday, you can afford to give a day away to watch a series from start to finish, unlike weekends when time seems to be a bit more precious and life a bit busier.

Everyone has their Christmas traditions and their favourite Christmas specials that make the season for them. I think this is an important way media plays a part in Christmas festivities for families as it helps create memories and things to look forward to.

I hope everyone enjoys their festive favourites this year.

Blessings in disguise

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This week the Church of England have taken over the headlines here in the UK, after leading cinemas refused to screen a commercial they had made featuring the Lord’s Prayer.

The advert that they submitted can be seen here:

There were no complaints made from the general public about the advert and the rules set out by the Committee of Advertising Practice only urge advertisers to avoid causing offence and inciting hatred, they do not say that something of a religious nature cannot be shown.

A lot of us will no doubt be going to the cinema over the Christmas period to see the new blockbusters like Star Wars, so it was a great advertising idea by the Church of England to capitalize on this market. I think that churches need to use media and interact with culture to reach people in the modern world we live in, so will always support initiatives like this as I want to see more things like this. I want to see the media taken over on all levels.

I think he big cinema chains scored a huge own-goal by banning this advert. From a business perspective they gave away income and lost future potential business from the Church of England. After doing this they also gave the Church of England a million times more publicity than they would have got, if the advert hadn’t been banned. The biggest marketing and publicity companies would be giving themselves the biggest high fives if they managed to get the publicity that this advert has received but it wasn’t a marketing company, it was a church.

The big chain cinemas could face a backlash for this action as by some media outlets they are being seen as not allowing freedom of speech. People will continue to go and see films, don’t get me wrong, but peoples view of certain chains of cinemas could change considerably.

In the UK, the media is telling us that we are becoming less of a Christian nation. The uproar about this advert being banned gives me hope and I think shows that although church attendance maybe down or the number of people who call themselves Christian maybe down, underneath these numbers I think there is still a lot of support for the church and Christian faith in the UK.

The timing of all of this in the run up to advent and Christmas is brilliant for the church and Christianity. The cinemas did not think this through at all but I hope through this incident that it will encourage more people to think of Christ this Christmas.

Sale Season

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For many years in the UK the sale season started on Boxing Day but in recent years the sale season has come early to the UK, with Black Friday triggering many pre-Christmas sales.

Spend

It used to be that people would use their Christmas money to snap up deals after Christmas and companies tried to encourage us to keep spending, even after all the money we had invested in Christmas. Now it seems that companies want us to spend more money before Christmas.

The thing I don’t like about pre-Christmas sales is that it encourages people to buy bigger gifts for others because they can get a certain item at a knock down price. Instead of buying something they want, it is all about getting them the highest value present whilst paying the least amount possible for it. The problem then comes is that if these pre-Christmas sales stop; the person you are buying for may still expect the same value gift as last year.

Do you really need it?

The other problem I have with sales is that it encourages us to buy things that we wouldn’t have dreamed of buying if they weren’t on sale. We think we are getting a bargain and making a great financial decision but in reality the best financial decision is to not buy it and keep your money in your wallet.

If you didn’t want a particular item before it was on sale you don’t need / want it now. You shouldn’t just want and buy things based on price. You should buy the things you want / need at the price you think they are worth. The price a shop puts on an item isn’t necessarily what you think it is worth or what it is worth to you. Always try and keep that figure in your head of what it is worth to you when you are going out to buy something, as just because it is on sale, it still might be more expensive than you think it is worth.

Turnover

Remember sales aren’t about the companies giving you a good offer; they are about the companies getting more money out of your pocket and shifting stock. The reason companies have sales is to get money out of you that they think they wouldn’t have if they didn’t have a sale, it is simply an exercise of them trying to increase their turnover and is not about them doing something nice for you.

I’m not against companies making money and I am not against people getting things at cheaper prices, I am just against the sale culture and how it feeds in to the material culture.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

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So now Halloween, Bonfire Night and Remembrance Sunday are over, thoughts in the UK start to be casted towards Christmas: A season where we all get a bit busier preparing for the biggest day on the calendar and excitement levels start to build.

It maybe only mid November but the war for the best Christmas TV advert has already begun with John Lewis and Sainsbury’s leading the way.

The City most local to me has had it’s Christmas Lights switch on and Christmas events are starting to appear in my diary. Christmas is officially in full swing in my world. I love the fact that it isn’t just one day and that the build up to the day can be so exciting. I know Christmas for some is a challenging time but I am a full on lover of Christmas.

The most important thing about Christmas to me is holding on to the meaning of the season and celebrating the birth of Jesus and all that the event meant for the world. Whilst keeping that at the forefront of my mind, I also enjoy other activities the season brings.

I love how Christmas is a good way of getting people together and to socialise. I feel friends and family tend to make more of an effort around the Christmas period to see each other and spend time with each other. The time spent together is normally spent eating, drinking and laughing together. I love the mood that Christmas puts people in. I really notice people going out of their way to be nicer to each other.

The other thing I like is being generous to others at Christmas. I feel that the season brings the generosity out of many of us. I enjoy thinking of and buying gifts for people. I am currently deliberating over the best gifts to get my wife and I love trying to come up with the best presents I can for her. Also this year I am doing a sponsored run to raise money for a family whose story really touched my heart. I am so looking forward to passing on the money that I raise and I really hope that it gives them some joy and hope at Christmas.

Spreading Christmas joy is so much fun. There is nothing like putting a smile on the faces on others and it is a lovely feeling to know you have helped make someone’s Christmas a bit extra special.

I hope you are all looking forward to Christmas and getting carried away in the right ways.

Happy Christmas

Around the world at this time people are greeting each other with the words “Happy Christmas” or “Merry Christmas.” From strangers in the street, to those nearest and dearest to them, people are going out of their way to greet each other with festive greetings. There is a feel good factor in areas and places where Christmas is celebrated, however at this time we need to make sure we don’t forget the people for whom it is an unhappy time.

This time of year can make people feel lonelier than they already may be feeling and can make people dwell on sadder times than happier times. Christmas is an emotional time which can bring up a lot of different memories for different people, so don’t always assume that it is a happy time for your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.

Just by someone saying Happy or Merry Christmas doesn’t mean it will be a happy or merry one for him or her. Lets keep an eye out for these people and make sure they don’t get forgotten about this Christmas. Lets make sure they know that they are loved and thought about. If you feel led to, why not invite them over to your home during the season. If you are talking to them in the street or on the phone take those extra minutes to really see how they are and make sure they know that they are in your thoughts.

I for one really enjoy Christmas with my family and I know millions of others around the world do too. To me it is a really special time that I really appreciate. It is one of my highlights of the year. I think it is a time of year we should enjoy and celebrate as much as we can. You shouldn’t feel bad or be made to feel bad for enjoying the season. We just need to remember those less fortunate or those who can’t enjoy this time for whichever reason.

Lets do our best to help as many people as possible have the best Christmas they possibly can.

Before I go on this edition of the blog I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers and followers of this website for your support this year. I also hope that this time of year is the best it can be for you and that it is even better than any Christmas you have ever known before.