Following Tuesday's winter solstice, the days grow longer and the nights shorter.

In no time at all, the bleak mid-winter gives way to spring.

This is something we can all celebrate, whatever our religious and cultural background.

Christmas, too, can be celebrated by all. Decking the house with sparkling bling, cutting down trees and sending hundreds of cards, buying presents on credit that we can't afford, overeating, spoiling the children until they are rotten to the core and putting out seven or so sackfuls of packaging for waste collection are just some of the popular ways of marking this traditional religious festival.

Alternatively, one could simply perform an act of kindness. For example, giving to someone in greater need than ourselves.

I know our city's rough sleepers need thermal hats, socks and gloves right now. I'm aware that 16-year-olds leaving foster care and teenage parents need food parcels.

Hospices always need money for running costs. Some people would love visitors for a friendly chat to dispel loneliness.

We can all give of our hearts.

Before we complain about others not "respecting" the biggest event in the Christian calendar, perhaps we can ask how we might respect the more positive aspects of Christmas ourselves.

Phone me on 01273 300 116 or email if you'd like to help the charities I support.

Peace and love to all peoples of all faiths.

-Marina Pepper, Mayor of Telscombe, Saltdean, Brighton