I don’t hate Christmas this year.

I put my Christmas tree up this evening, on the 1st of December, the same as my parents had in all the years I can remember. It’s a twiggy affair, dark brown with LED lights, picked up today for half price from Wilkinsons and one I might keep up all year round, perched and twinkling in the corner of my lounge.

I hung from it knick knacks from around my flat, Christmas decorations from years gone by fashioned from things like old front door keys, junk jewellery, pine cones, photographs and small stuffed toys.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, I whispered to Small Boy, kissing the top of his head. And overwhelmed, I found myself crying silently into the top of his soft little blonde head. Because this year, I don’t hate Christmas.

This year, I have a job that I love, a home that is secure, and a fridge that is plugged in at the mains, with a pint of milk in it, and some chicken, and some vegetables.

This year, I am not scrabbling around for something to sell to be able to buy Small Boy something from the 99p shop, just so that he can have something to open, from me.

This year, Santa will come down the chimney and leave flour-snow footprints, and an orange and a bag of chocolate coins in the bright and shiny new little stocking that will hang on the fireplace on Christmas Eve.

This year I will not try to commit suicide on Christmas day, nor spend it stomping along the beach alone, anything to get out of a cold and desolately empty flat.

This year we will be parcelling Christmas things up for our local food banks, and dropping them off a few days before.

This year I will be able to exchange cards with friends, and small gifts, as a Thankyou for sticking around during the tumultuous and now crazy busy year I’ve had.

This year there are no red-topped bills, no bank charges, no missed or delayed benefit payments, no rent arrears, no threat of eviction, no friend sitting in my living room in tears giving me a weeks rent just to see me and Small Boy through to the new year. This year there are no bailiffs, no debt collectors, no constant unsolicited phone calls. This year there is peace, and quiet contentment. At last.

This year I don’t fear, spurn or renounce Christmas. It’s not cancelled, reviled, or desolate. And it’s thanks to every one of you.

I sometimes describe my job, or what I do, as a publicly elected post. I didn’t put myself here, I didn’t drag myself out of the black hole all by myself. You, my readers, did. You read my musings and ramblings, shared my recipes, gently nagged me to write them in a book. And every single day I am thankful for all of you – even the criticism, the differing opinions, that keep me grounded and challenged and analytical. Even Richard Littlejohn, who gifted me 7,000 extra followers on Twitter by accident…

And so here I am, making a new batch of tree biscuits to hang up now we actually have a tree to hang them on, with my Small Boy by my side, and this year, for the first year in a long time, I don’t hate Christmas. Thankyou. X

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack


Categories: Blog


  1. Your tree is beautiful, and I wish you many days of celebration within its glow. Your post brought tears to my eyes, and I am so happy for you and your family that your hard work has paid off xx

  2. Congratulations jack. You deserve a bit of hard earned luck for all the effort you’ve put in for your boy. Happy Christmas. Keep doing what you do.

  3. So pleased you are able to enjoy Christmas this year and I’m sure small boy is very excited πŸ™‚ x

  4. I wish you and your sweet son all the happiness and a tear did fall reading about your sadder past Christmas times.Your writings have brightened up my days I am an oap living alone but you are like a friend and I especially am interested in the more serious matters you discuss and yes I too am concerned with the way things are and to conclude I wish you lovely Christmas.PS the tree is lovely.

  5. You are an inspiration to young and old and to all us single mothers out that take on multiple roles huge demands and are rewarded with endless cuddles which make it worthwhile. Well done you πŸ™‚

  6. Made me weep, your wee boy is lucky one, xmas with a three yr old is pretty magical too – enjoy every moment xxx

  7. bless you my love. You deserve all the peace and love in your life. Thanks for being my favourite blogger of 2013 and for the inspiration and insights you share. Looking forward to your book and will be gifting it to friends during 2014.

  8. I’ve only just started reading your blog but this post brought tears to my eyes too. Have a wonderful Christmas, you and your Small Boy

  9. No thank you Jack! for being the voice for so many people, for being brave and putting yourself in the firing line, I hope you enjoy continued success for many years to come.
    from someone else who has put their decorations up on the 1st of December for the first time since I can remember xx

  10. I am soooooo happy for you! I have 2 girls, born 2nd & 26th Dec, so December generally, and Christmas especially can be horrific. I know how it feels to think maybe it would be easier to go now, for us to fall asleep in the car, in the garage than to have to disappoint them. For them to suffer the humiliation of not having what their friends have…..thank God that was a long time ago. Things have gotten better. I am older, and wiser, and know that material things aren’t the be all and end all. The kids now understand the concept of “can’t afford” and know it doesn’t mean “love you less”. Sometimes, often even, it’s hard, but I’ve never hit that kind of low again, I hope I never will, and I am sure you never will again either. Wishing you and SB a wonderful, happy, harmonious Christmas and continuing success in the New Year x

  11. Have been there and know how you must have felt. We spent Friday collecting for food parcels and for the drop in centre and was pleased that people continue to be generous with tins and packets considering the other collections that have gone on this month. I hope you have a loving and peaceful Christmas and that it brings you much joy. Keep up the good work and very best wishes for 2014.

  12. Wishing you peace and love this Christmas, from my family to yours; with thanks for all you have shared and making my year that little bit better too X

  13. Bless you, Jack. You bring so much hope to all of us. I hope you and your little family have a wonderful Christmas, because after everything you’ve been through, and everything you’ve done for us, it’s the very least you deserve.

    I just wish for you the energy and the strength to keep fighting, so that next year, a few more families will be able to enjoy their Christmases too xx

  14. So happy for you Jack, you deserve an amazing Christmas for standing up and speaking for people who are struggling to exist on too little. Thank you for your words and your brilliant. Recipes.xx

  15. What lovely words! I now have a little tear in my eye. It is wonderful to know that your life has turned a corner and that you are happy. More importantly though you are giving others hope. A fantastic gift for Christmas. The tree is beautiful. X

  16. I love all your tree represents keep it up all year and never loose touch with all you have gained. Keep it real, and as you receive you give, it’s all good. Have a really great run up to Christmas and a really happy time with SB.

  17. Your tree reminds me of mine I have a twiggy tree from a branch I found few years back and painted it dark green
    Merry Christmas x

  18. Jack:

    I hope the work you do provides an example to others, to be kind, and prompt them to help others out, too.

    Every person can make a difference, no matter how small it may seem.

    May you continue to spread joy and have a happy, healthy new year!

  19. What a beautiful tree! I wish you and Small Boy a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. Love to you both xx

  20. Aw Jack, you’ve gone and done it again – made me cry. Really pleased things have got so much better for you. Please don’t denigrate your own hard work and strength of character, which was undoubtedly the catalyst of your well deserved success!
    Have a lovely, bright, happy christmas – its about time!

  21. What a wonderful post, you really touched my heart Jack and I’m so pleased for you and your son that things have changed so drastically for the good. X

  22. Wishing you and Small Boy a wonderfully happy Christmas and a stable and secure future by the sound of it – you truly deserve it. Can’t wait for you to ‘unwrap’ the ‘presents’ you’ve got for us next year!

  23. You should definitely keep the tree up all year round! It will remind you of how far you have come. What is remarkable is that by virtue of your determination, hard work and integrity you have not only made life better for you and your son, but you continue to give hope to others. It has been so heartening to see how you have carried on with your brilliant blog despite setbacks and in spite of trolls (and Littlejohns!). I hope you enjoy Christmas and give yourself a few days off to rest and reflect on how many brilliant things you have done!

  24. Dear Jack & little fella
    I am so happy that this year is so different to last year’s torturous time. May you have peace and quiet with some festivity thrown in for good measure!!

  25. Thank you Jack… for letting people know.

    Your blogs are close to where I was several years ago after coming out of a women’s refuge. I’d be the one queuing at Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s waiting for them to put their reduced items out. It did however, make for some interesting Xmas dinners!

    Good luck and enjoy, you sure as hell deserve it xx

  26. You truly are an inspiration. Warm happy tears rolled down my cheeks whilst reading this. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. You deserve it Xx

  27. So happy for you Jack – have a magical Christmas – would love to see SB’s beautiful little face on Christmas morning!Enjoy a well-earned break,and come back fighting in the New Year!Love and hugs, J.

  28. Jack,
    Your tree is beautiful – part of the magic of Christmas for Small Boy. Looking forward to more recipes this month. Have a good December.

    Stay warm both of you.]

  29. Jack, I just want you to know that I know exactly how you feel, and I am sharing your tears of relief. Well done with everything you have achieved, you richly deserve some happiness. I hope you have an incredible Christmas.


  30. What a wonderful post Jack. I am so pleased that at last you are going to have a Christmas you will want to remember – I am so happy for you but have a lump in my throat thinking of those who this year will be where you have been. I just hope someone like you will be able to show them that there is hope.

  31. I am one of your new followers Jack after reading Richard Littlejohn’s thoughtless and badly researched article so I would very much like to take this opportunity to wish you, your boy and your partner a very merry Christmas and a bright prosperous new year!

  32. I cried. You have worked so hard for yourself and your small boy. You have earned every moment of happiness this christmas. Enjoy it, Jack πŸ™‚

  33. Another lovely post from you. I have had bleak days when it was thoughts of your courage, resourcefulness and resiliance that helped me get through them thank you.
    My dire financial situation eased this week – I became eligible for my state pension and now the weeks won’t be a constant grind of making a tiny bit go a very long way.
    I wish you and your family a very happy Christmas and may the new year be happy, busy and prosperous.

  34. Hoping you have a truly joyful Christmas free from fear and frustration, with warmth and smiles and full tummies. You’ll never forget what it used to be like and you’ll never be complacent. A happy ending to 2013. Well done Jack, and thanks for continuing to write.

  35. Following since BBC report in May. Love your open honesty and courage on live TV. Thank you for bring food poverty to our attention and the ways in which we all can help.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

  36. Happy christmas. It’s a tough one for me and my small boy this year, (hes five) , but if you can do it i can right? Xx

    • Nic, I just read your post – yes, one year late and I am not sure that you will see this anyway. I dare hope that all in your Lives has improved beyond recognition but if you still need a little plus, although things are not quite sublime at the moment for me, I am sure I can share a tiny amount of cash, Xmas decorations, with you πŸ™‚

  37. May the Powers that are bless ‘this Christmas’ and all the year to follow! If there are any steps back, may they always be followed by two steps forward!! Warm Yule wishes from the Antipodes πŸ™‚ !

  38. There are tears in my eyes. What a wonderfully warm and comforting message. Thank you, Jack, for the way you have opened my eyes this year.
    Wishing you and Small Boy the best Christmas ever,
    J x

  39. A very happy Christmas to you and your boy! And thanks sooo much for being you and sharing all those wonderful and cheap recipes! It’s been a hard year for us (unemployed); your creativity and strength have greatly inspired us and given us hope. Have a great one!! πŸ™‚ xx

  40. Wonderful news Jack. Wish Small Boy a very Merry and Happy Christmas from me love and hugs xxx

  41. May God bless u not only on Xmas but 4 the rest of the year.I will b thinking of u and ur son on Xmas and u will b in my prayers

  42. To echo all the other well wishers, you really deserve your happiness. Have a wonderfully happy Christmas, and look forward to all that 2014 has to offer you. The sky is your limit.

  43. A very happy and healthy Christmas to you ,Small Boy and partner, Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and perseverance and hard work. It’s down to your blog and you that I now volunteer at my local Food Bank and I thank you for that. I wish you happiness, good health and continued good luck for Christmas and 2014.
    Very best wishes, Kate

  44. Keep inspiring, informing, lobbying & making a difference Jack – those changes that have happened & you’ve told everyone about have inspired others and made it happened for them. Keep making a difference. Have a fantastic Christmas Jack & kick the arse out of the New Year!

  45. I’ve been following your progress almost since the beginning, you have pulled yourself up every inch of the way and it’s been a privilege and an honour to watch your journey.

    I wish you and your beautiful SB a wonderful and magical Christmas together. Your tree is beautiful and should glisten in the corner of your room as a reminder that YOU did it.

  46. What a wonderful post! You never gave up and things did get better. Hopefully this will be the case for many more people too this year. Have a magical Christmas and many more to come. Enjoy the new traditions you are starting and I expect your new tree will still be coming out, a bit battered but hung with memories and much loved, when its your grandchildren making the biscuits with you!

  47. Dear Jack, I’ve been following your blog since May and several times you’ve brought tears to my eyes, sometimes through sorrow or anger at the injustice, but today through joy! I wish you and SB and those who love you a blessed, joyful Christmas and New year, and every happiness in the future. Thank you x

  48. I’m one who is here courtesy of Richard littlejohn, so he does have some uses, at least for me.
    Inspiring post as always Jack, and one that gave me a lump in my throat. Things are tough for us this year but you give me a sense that it’s never hopeless, and a belief that we will get through these tough times too.
    This post for me is a reminder of what christmas should be about, and it’s so damned easy to get caught up in what the advertisers tell you it should be that often I have lost sight of that. So, here’s to a much leaner christmas, but one spent with family and though there won’t be many gifts there will be lots of love and hopefully a turkey dinner πŸ™‚
    Wishing you,partner, and small boy a great christmas – one you truly deserve – and all the best for 2014 xx

  49. I have only started reading your blog. Your writing moves me. Your recipes look delicious. Merry Christmas to you and your boy! x

  50. A wonderful post. And humbling. We should thank you. Wishing you and small boy and future wife a very joyful Christmas,

  51. And a merry christmas and happy new year to you and the SB.

    See – everything turns out alright in the end (at least that is what I keep telling myself)!


  52. From despair to joy in one short year. You inspire those ‘treading treacle’ to keep going. As THE man from my youth said, who had to inspire a whole generation…”Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in” Enjoy the festivities and be proud of your achievements.

  53. Wow, I just cried. I’ve been following you for a while and this post makes me so happy that you have got out of such a dark place. I hope you and your little boy have a fantastic Christmas xx

  54. This is the most beautiful Christmas posting that I have read. This time last year I didn’t think I’d make it to the next one, I have incureable cancer, and I held my children tight whilst trying to teach them about kindness and joy. This year I feel fighting fit and will be out in the snow singing carols and dancing round the bonfire on New Year’s Eve. It is amazing the difference a year can make.

    • Emily, thank God your love and happiness are incurable. May those sentiments stay with you today and for evermore πŸ™‚

  55. Well said Jack. That was heart felt! What a journey you’ve been on. So pleased you are in a happier place now. Big hugs for a very happy Christmas to you and SB. Px

  56. You have helped many people (including myself), which is surely the true spirit of Christmas…I hope you and your family have a great time.

  57. You are a wonderful writer. We love your recipes and articles in the guardian and find you very inspiring. This year my family will all be taking parcels to their local food banks because of you.

    Have a truly wonderful Christmas with your lovely Small Boy.


  58. Small Boy is so lucky to have a Mum who doesn’t think that loads of useless tat is what Xmas is all about. It’s so good, too, that you’re managing to keep a sense of perspective despite all the pressures. Have a great holiday season.

  59. What a heart-warming post! Amazing to see how you have not only survived but grown over the past year. All down to your determination and inventiveness. Have a wonderful Christmas with SB and the new person in your life.

  60. Come on now, stop it. You are bringing tears to a grizzled old man’s eyes. You and SB enjoy every single, solitary second of Christmas….you deserve them all.

  61. Love the tree – and love that this year, you do not hate Christmas. May you never hate it again… And may no one else have cause to either, sooner rather than later.

  62. I have had a few problems this year but you have kept me grounded, delighted, amused and thoughtful. Your musing for today actually had me close to tears which is something that does not happen very often. Happy Christmas.

  63. Having been where you have been .Poor.. struggling… I can appreciate where your coming from. Only when you have been down teh road youve been on can anyone appreciate the feelings your going through. I would rather watch YOU cooking on tv anyday that that Jamie oliver anyday because you come from the heart . You Know what its like to struggle, God bless you lass .. Youve been to rock botton Now your on your way UP. Thanks to your need to survive and the internet , theirs many of us following you,. your an inspiration to everyone πŸ™‚

  64. Hi Jack, My name is Gem and I’ve been reading your blog for some time now. I have always felt that I can relate to you in many small ways, your blog helped me find ways to feed my girls when things were tight, helped remind me that no matter what happens there is always a way to find the light at the end of the tunnel and mostly it reminded me that, as a single mother there is always a way to dig deep and find that tiny bit of inner strength struggling to seep out and keep you going…. So for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Reading your post about not hating Christmas made me sob with joy for you. It just shows that karma really does work. Your tenacity, courage and positivity is awe inspiring and to read that you, Mrs Jack and Johnny can have a wonderful Christmas together is possibly the best news I’ve heard about a perfect stranger ever! In my opinon you deserve it so very much! So I hope you all have your selves a very merry Christmas indeed! Thank you again for being the true inspiration that myself and I’m sure many others needed to help get through difficult times, you truly are a gift! Your tireless campagne to alert others to the travesty that is the defunct system our government finds acceptable to force those who struggle the most shall hopefully resonate with the fat cats some day soon! Warmest wishes and sheer admiration, Gem x

  65. I’m so happy that things are better this year. I’ve loved your recipes and think you are doing a wonderful job campaigning against poverty. Happy Christmas to you SB and Mrs Jack.

  66. I’m so Sorry you had to live all that.
    But now you are here, you are loved and needed. Thank you, and have a magical christmas time

  67. This brought tears to my eyes. A very merry Christmas to you and your family, Jack. Enjoy the peace and quiet of the holiday season, because I know you’ll be going places next year. All the best!

  68. hello jack – I have just signed your petition because it seems to exactly deal with the question we have been talking about in the last few weeks. How can people be starving, freezing etc. when we are supposed to have a safety-net called the benefits system – especially where children are concerned. Being one of the lucky ones, who no longer has to budget every penny, I don’t mind making donations to the organisations who can help, and we do that. But sometimes we wonder whether it’s just a sticking plaster and nothing is done to make things better. Frankly, we would rather pay more tax – and then know that things like your 2011 xmas do not happen in our country! I don’t know that I would expect our taxes to buy trees and gifts – but they should absolutely buy heat, light and food ! I understand charities collecting christmas toys for those who can’t buy them, but there should be no need at all for a foodbank. For as long as the need exists, we will donate – but THANK YOU for trying to get at the root causes !

  69. Lucky you! I am happy for you and, yes, a little envious. Unfortunately, I will hate this Christmas even more than usual. Alone and isolated, cold and hungry. Deep joy.

  70. Relatively new reader writing to let you know you’re an inspiration in the States, too — Small Boy is lucky to have such a wonderful example to follow in you. Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

  71. I’m so pleased you’re in a happier place. Thank you for sharing your journey with the rest of us. I hope you have a brilliant Christmas & New Year πŸ™‚

  72. Have a lovely Christmas. You are a kind and generous person who understands the true spirit of Christmas and SB is very lucky to have you as his Mum

  73. Bless you Jack. You’ve waited so patiently at karma’s kitchen you’ve finally had served up what you deserve. Enjoy every metaphorical mouthful πŸ™‚

  74. Oh no, I have just wept on a train reading this post. May your Christmas be merry & bright, secure in the knowledge that others may be better off for the spotlight you are shining on the calamity of food poverty in our nation. Keep up the good work!

  75. I pay taxes for scroungers like you to live, it makes me sick. Try getting up every day tired for another day on the treadmill, You are not clever or making a point, you are just another sponger, its not clever.
    So you got a job, about time.

    • Hi Jane – I pay taxes too, and am really glad that I do, because paying taxes means I have a job. Paying taxes means that when people find themselves in a sticky situation there is a welfare safety net to help them out. I don’t begrudge paying my taxes and neither do I begrudge those who might need them one day.

    • True spirit of Scrooge there Jane, I’m ashamed to share a name with you. I pay taxes happily because I want to know that no one in this country is going hungry. I hope I never have to find out if I could deal with extreme poverty like Jack did -she has pulled herself up from rock bottom, she is an inspiration and I admire her tremendously.

  76. I have had a similar Tree for the past 10 years – I take a Branch from a tree secure it in a pot and decorate with handmade items my daughter & I have made (save most items for future use). just bought cheap basic lights from supermarket for around Β£1.00 (on my 2nd set of lights).
    When Xmas is over box the lights and keepsakes and compost the branch πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  77. totally made me cry and im off to donate food to a local food bank this weekend. thank you for the reminder that we all should do more if we can

  78. I just read this post, and even though it is an old post and you are surely even more happy and ready to enjoy Christmas this year, it made me cry to read about your previous struggle πŸ™ But you overcame it all, you make us all proud I think, humans I mean. It is nice to see that there are people like you out there. People that keep fighting and turn the tide around. You sound like a lovely person!
    By the way, I love that tree!! and it made me want to go out and bake some Christmas cookies! too early in the year though πŸ™‚ First Halloween, I say!
    Thanks for sharing!

  79. Ga! I cried too! One year later πŸ™‚ May we all enjoy Christmas/Winter Solstice with enough to no longer fear ever. Thank you!

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