No matter how much money you have to spend or how many gifts are under your tree, Christmas really is all about love and family. (Hey, that rhymed. Beautiful sentiment, isn't it. Like a song.) Some people don't even have that. No family. No loved ones to have some yuletide festivities. Sad stuff. Welcome to 85-year-old James Gray's life. He's lonely and has spent the last 10 Christmases eating smoked salmon all by himself. And the last time he had a guest on Christmas, it was his accountant, about a decade ago.
This year the retired butler from South London decided to do something about it. He placed a newspaper ad looking for people to spend Christmas with him.
Gray said, "I'm used to the loneliness but I don't want it to be the same this year. I think there must be quite a few lonely people around and I am on my own, so it would make sense, I think, if someone came here for Christmas lunch."
Grandpa Gray! My heartstrings are Christmas caroling just for you right now! Come to my house!!!
The ad he placed was in the Irish Post and in it he described how he was looking for other retirees who didn't have family who wanted to join him for lunch at a hotel on Christmas. How sweet is that? Nothing creepy. No funny business. A personal ad in a real newspaper, too! The perfect spot for the audience he wants to reach. You know, opposed to, say, Facebook.
At first Gray had one woman respond but she changed her mind. And just when nearly all hope was lost, Grey started getting Christmas cards from strangers all over the world! People were even inviting Gray to go all the way to New York City to spend Christmas with them. Some even sent him gifts including a Quality Street toffee penny and a bottle of whiskey. See, people? We can have a little faith in humanity. There is such a thing as getting in the Christmas spirit! 'Tis the season! Deck the halls! Insert whatever other jolly great joy quips you know here. Gray, of course, got very emotional by all of this. "It is so touching to me, after all these years alone, to see this response from people. I’m so appreciative of the offers. I should have done this years ago."
I'm so glad he finally did it now. One of those who reached out to Gray was Jake Morrison, a 21-year-old from Liverpool who organizes lunches for people just like Gray -- alone and with no family for the holidays. Morrison, who is something like a real Saint Nick, is providing travel to and from London for Gray as well as a hotel room so he can attend.
I feel so Christmas spirit-y now! Happy. And joyful. And optimistic. I hope Mr. Gray has the best Christmas ever. And an incredible 2014 with hopefully some new friends.
If you are interested in sending him some of your holiday cheer, you can mail cards to:
‘Mr James Gray’ c/o The Irish Post, Suite A, 1 Lindsey Street
Smithfield, London EC1A 9HP, UK
What do you think of James Gray's decision to place the ad?
Image via Mary Pat/Flickr