Few people, no matter how caring or selfless, want to give up their Christmas Day.
Many people who have worked hard in their job or cared for others or done countless other good deeds during the preceding year understandably feel that they have earned time to do what they want to do on December 25, which typically means spending time with their closest relatives and loved ones.
It is a gesture of remarkable kindness therefore to sacrifice some or all of Christmas Day to help others who are less fortunate, and perhaps do not have anyone with whom to celebrate the occasion.
We report today on volunteers across Northern Ireland who will make exactly that sacrifice, and help to lay on community dinners for people who would otherwise be alone.
This is done in the true spirit of Christmas and the Christian message of charity and love.
The Common Grounds cafe, run by City Church in south Belfast, is now in its eighth year of providing a traditional festive meal to people including refugees and homeless folk.
It is heartening, and humbling to those of us who will not be participating in such a project, to learn that the cafe had hundreds of volunteers to help out.
A similar meal is being arranged in Coleraine by the charity Vineyard Compassion, and a dinner is being offered by the charity Crossfire Trust in Darkley, south Armagh.
Ian Bothwell, who is helping to arrange that latter event, has some sobering words to say about the current state of Christmas when he explains the reasoning behind the meal: “It is really about putting some reality back into Christmas – it has become a very selfish family-centred event.”
While the desire to spend time with, and buy presents for, friends and family is of course itself rooted in kindness, love and generosity, these noble Christmas volunteers help to spread that same happiness to those who would otherwise miss out on festive cheer.