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Reform Magazine | December 7, 2023

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Christian Activist: Lonely this Christmas

Christian Activist: Lonely this Christmas

Leanne Clelland tackles loneliness at Christmas

On 25 December 2009, Bezwada Wilson, an activist working with manual scavengers in Delhi, was on a train on his way to work. Although a Christian, Wilson had decided six years previously that he would no longer celebrate Christmas. His parents had recently died and initially he preferred to work than to mourn their passing on that day. Each year, his siblings invited him to eat with them or suggested that they might share some small gifts. He steadfastly refused.

But his commitment to spend Christmas alongside Dalits who carry out the worst form of menial labour imaginable seemed to cause him greater discomfort each year. He missed his family and his parents desperately. Now, he felt torn between his conscientious stance and his desire to rest and celebrate with loved ones. Wilson started to weep.

However, as he left the station and approached his co-workers, he felt an overwhelming sense of relief. He says: “I knew in that moment, that these are my people. These are the women with whom I will spend Christmas Day because I saw the spirit of my mother in them.”

For nearly 20 years, ALTERnativity has been listening to how people celebrate Christmas. As a result, we have created a vast library of festive resources that deal with both the celebrations and the anxieties that the season can bring. Alongside workshop dealing with stress and debt at Christmas, there are also many ideas for celebrating Christmas simply and thoughtfully…

Leanne Clelland is project coordinator of ALTERnativity. For more information, to get church resources or to share a story, call 0141 221 4242, email or visit


This is an extract from the December 2015/January 2016 edition of Reform.

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