EVERY year, Christmas seems to come around faster than the previous one – or am I just getting older? I feel like I just packed away my decorations, and here I am, already wondering where the tree will go this year.

The supermarkets and local shops are full of shiny, glittery things, and toiletries are packaged in boxes and stacked high along with the rows of sweets. I may sound cynical, but I do love Christmas – I just have a mixed relationship with it. I love the music, I love decorating and I love giving, but the pressure and stress can be overwhelming.

Over the years, I have spoken to many for whom Christmas is a time of great sadness and loneliness, and the pressure to have a perfect family day with all the trimmings can be too much for many.

And over the years, while Christmas has changed in how it presents for me, at the foundation of it all is the focus on giving, which has never changed.

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I have a fond memory of catching the bus into town with some pocket money and heading to the 99p shop at the indoor market in Aberdeen.

I would spend an hour at least choosing gifts for my family members. False teeth holders for my grandparents certainly got a great few belly laughs one year!

I often think of my children and grandchildren who’d like to draw me pictures or parcel up things from the house to gift to me. They would eagerly watch my face as I would be surprised with an old dog toy or ornament from my home.

It’s humorous and sweet thinking back on these moments, but at the base of it, the psychology here is that innately we love giving and the reaction of joy on others’ faces.

I certainly don’t think we can ignore the capitalism that encompasses this time of year. The financial pressure to spend, spend, spend and chase down the top-10 must-have gifts for children! The talk of the playgrounds and the ads right in our faces can be too much pressure for families.

I have been in a place where money was exceptionally tight – where not having a penny to my name was quite literal, and the fear and feeling of being powerless is unnerving.

A few years ago, I was part of a group that delivered Christmas food parcels to people in need, and one of the names on the list was my own. I was reminded of that time, specifically this week, as I visited a community larder in Buckie. Pupils at Buckie High School set it up to help people struggling with the cost of living crisis. They were talking about the need to be respectful and to treat people with dignity, as they don’t know what their backstory is. And they don’t need to know, they are there simply to facilitate a need – a need which is surely going to be extreme this year.

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My inbox is full of emails from anxious people who haven’t even thought past affording their heating bills, never mind contemplating Christmas. Heating or eating or keeping their homes, or none of the aforementioned is a reality for many.

We are in a very dire situation, and it’s bleak to say the least. I know there are several ways for people to help in their areas, and it’s warming to see the level of community activism across Scotland trying to take the edge off.

In my constituency, I have set up a Christmas appeal for people to donate if they are able. I have linked up with the Buckie Community Larder; Banff Toy Bank; Danielle’s Place in Macduff, Aberdeenshire North Foodbank in Fraserburgh; and The Food Bank Centre in Peterhead.

If you live in the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency and can afford to help, please do. For everywhere else, please check local noticeboards and community group social media pages to see where you can donate. If there was ever a time when giving was needed, it is now.

There has always been a need for charity, and I don’t think we will ever get to a point where it’s going to go completely, but the cost of living crisis is a political choice, as I said last week in the Chamber at Holyrood when challenged with the notion that the UK Government didn’t cause a fuel crisis.

I reiterate this. It is the responsibility of a government to ensure stability for its citizens, regardless of where that instability has come from – just like the Scottish Government is consistently mitigating the chaos of the UK Government.

Decades of austerity and an economy which has been set up to trickle down have failed utterly and completely. It is a dereliction of duty to ignore the needs of the most vulnerable in society.

Humans set up society because we realised that together we could benefit from looking out for each other, where we gave to a central pot, knowing that it created a healthy and happier nation. Giving only to those who qualify some manmade rules of how deserving they must be doesn’t create an atmosphere of a cohesive community, it creates suspicion and judgment, and it disconnects us from each other.

We see it all around us, the judgment of benefit claimants, disabled people being silently judged on how disabled they are, and immigrants being treated as criminals. We have a UK Government that has been pitting us against each other for years.

I see so many good works in communities, we have people with huge hearts serving every day to ensure their areas and their people are supported and cared for, and they give their time constantly all year.

As the Christmas cost of living approaches, whether you are someone who can give or someone who needs, please look for these people and reach out – they are the real Christmas angels.