Television is littered with Christmas greetings from station personalities, carols and hymns are aired on radio, shops are decked out in tinsel and baubles; but this facade hides a grim truth for many on the NSW North Coast.
More than a few people are struggling just to meet the rising cost of living. Young families on minimum wage, retirees, the unemployed and pensioners are all in the same boat when it comes to the festive season.
In regional areas with a high seachange/treechange population the problem is compounded by the distance from family. High petrol costs mean that some relatives will not be making that Christmas visit journey.
Christmas can be a depressing time of year when you can't even put together a decent traditional dinner because of rising costs. The only free dinner that I know of is in Yamba and the numbers attending are growing each year.
Australia-wide it appears to be a similar story.
"With one in 10 Victorian families having found themselves without enough money for food at some time in the past year, charities expect more families than ever will be forced to ask for help this Christmas — many for the first time."
The Age today:
So as you raise a glass and Ho, ho, ho, this holiday season - spare a thought for those not as lucky and think about what your own community might do in the coming year about the pockets of quiet desperation in many local streets.