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Many people spend their Christmas day celebrating Christ's birth in a cozy home with family and close friends, but John and Pauline Seaman and their family give up their usual Christmas to help cook and serve dinner to the needy.

"Last year started a tradition for us when we served dinner at the Salvation Army kitchen," Sister Seaman said. "Year after year we have enjoyed so many nice things. We used to eat, watch television and open gifts, and there was no special meaning to Christmas."But Christmas is the time of year when we should think so much about other people and give gifts and send greetings. It's nice to help others."

Last Christmas Sister Seaman read a newspaper story about a Salvation Army captain who was preparing Christmas dinner for the homeless and poor, and needed help.

"I thought on that for a moment and it excited me to think that we could help," she continued. "We could spend our Christmas helping others! I didn't know what the family would think, but I called and offered to help, asking if the whole family could come. I wanted us all to be together."

The Seaman family, members of the Darlington Branch in the Billingham England Stake, agreed to join in the activity and were even happy to give up their "normal" Christmas to help the needy. They plan to do the same again this year.

The family will join with a Christian community group in Darlington to feed the elderly and single people who are alone on Christmas day.

"We don't do enough the rest of the year for others," Sister Seaman added. "I think Christmas is the one day of the year that it must be terrible to be alone.

"Last year our son played the piano, we sang carols, and when everyone was served and the kitchen clean, we went home," Sister Seaman explained. "We were all pleased with what we had done. Our handicapped son really enjoyed helping.

"We weren't too tired to enjoy opening our presents in the evening. In England, we celebrate Christmas for two days - Christmas Day and Boxing Day. So on Boxing Day we had Christmas dinner. We didn't miss a thing. I thought it would be a sacrifice for us, but it wasn't. Actually serving others did more for us. We better appreciate what we have. It was a token, and we need to do more."