The holiday season is upon us, and for many people the lead up to the big day is a blur of tinsel, carols and buying presents.
In the Christmas rush it’s easy to forget that the best gift to give is compassion and support to those who are less fortunate.
Christmas can be an especially difficult and isolating time for people who are homeless or marginalised. Often there’s no warm bed to wake up in, no roast lunch on the table and no family to spend it with.
Three Big Issue vendors share their experiences here, showing a side of Christmas that many people don’t get to see. Rachel, who sells the magazine at Pyrmont, wishes for a happier Christmas.
“To me Christmas means family and friends, good cheer, food and a safe place to sleep. Christmas is a dream that will one day come true as Christmas to me means tears and pain,” Rachel says.
Jacob, who sells on the corner of Pitt and Bathurst streets, says the friends he made while sleeping rough help him through the Christmas period.
“Christmas is the hardest thing. Well it’s not hard now right … but when I was on the streets it wasn’t that easy,” Jacob says.
“I’ve just lived in housing for three months, so I’m coping with a lot of changes to my life right now. It’s still really a burden to me, but the meaning of Christmas is just families, even street family because I’ve got no family.
“I’m not in contact with my family anymore, but having all the street family is the best thing ever in the world.”
And Marcus, who sells The Big Issue at Concord and Five Dock, is lucky to have formed a strong bond with his customers.
“To me Christmas is about one thing, family and friends. It’s not nice to spend Christmas alone, but I’m very blessed to have customers that have invited me to Christmas lunch over the last three years,” Marcus says.
While Christmas is different for each Big Issue vendor, they can all use some extra cheer this festive season.
Whether it’s picking up a calendar or magazine to directly support a vendor, or stopping to wish them a Merry Christmas, it all goes a long way.