As we move nearer to Christmas day, we're going to look a little bit at the story of Christmas. Before we start though, lets have some music. This is the Barnstormers - house band of the Thatched Barn, a hotel on the Barnet Bypass from 1938!
The Thatched Barn was a glamorous hotel built in the 1930s. It occupied the site of what was, in the 1930s, the most expensive and largest roadhouse constructed in Britain -- a two storey, mock Tudor behemoth, costing £800,000 to build and featuring parking spaces for 1000 cars, a dining room with seating for 500, a huge heated outdoor swimming pool, a shooting range and to top it all off, a gigantic over-arching thatched roof.
The Thatched Barn was a favourite haunt of movie actors from the various studios spread around the Elstree area -- the Pathé newsreels of the 30s frequently showed the stars frolicking poolside.
As to the story of Chirstmas, we think of a lovely scene of a baby in a manger, the cattle lowing and three wise men turning up with gifts. Whilst those of us who are Christian draw much from the story, a wise old Jewish friend of mine, who was a staunch humanist socialist, once pointed out that we'd all missed the true story. He said that the Wise men had turned up and were interviewed by Herod, who wanted to know where the Baby was so he could murder it. The story has it that the Wise men turned up, gave their gifts and departed back to the East. He told me that he thought the Wise men were simply kind and compassionate wealthy residents of Jerusalem, who had heard that Herod planned a purge of babies in the Bethelhem area, so made their way to see if they could save any lives. He believed that they were wise, generous and kind, but in a way we should all recognise as being a model. He said that they probably told Mary and Joseph to get out of Bethlehem and gave the gifts so they had something to raise some cash for the journey. He said we rightly commemorate them for wisdom and kindness, but we should follow their example, as a message to aid those fleeing political persecution and repression. Whatever you believe of the story, sadly there are still families with young children suffering and fleeing violence murder and injustice in the name politics today. Whatever your view of the Xmas story, whatever your religion or lack of it, surely we have a duty to support anyone who finds themselves in the same situation as a family did in a barn 2000 years ago?
So todays charity can only be the New Citizens Gateway formerly known as Barnet Refugee Service - http://www.ncgateway.org.uk/
Their website says this