When it comes to Christmas the first thing that most children think about is presents. No matter how hard we as parents may try to put the focus elsewhere it’s hard to distract the children from what they see as the culmination of the month or more of built-up excitement.
Whilst you may not be able to distract them fully, I do think it important to also make them think about those for whom presents are the last thing on their minds at this time of year.
Through school and the various Scouting and Guiding organisations that my children belong to this year they have been given plenty of opportunities to think about those less fortunate than themselves this December.
At my son’s school all families have been invited to leave a present under the school Christmas tree in the hall. They have worked with the local food bank and over time the school has built up a good relationship with them with the children understanding what the food bank is for and also collecting for them at the annual harvest festival. Rather than tins and packets they have asked people to buy an extra toy this Christmas and wrap it up so that it can be passed to a child whose parents might not be able to buy them what they asked Father Christmas for. Families were simply asked to wrap it up with a label showing the age range of the child who might like to open it on Christmas morning. A simple extra gift, but one that probably means the world to the child receiving it, and also to their parents.
Master C’s Beaver unit has been focussing on a different sector of our local community who might be finding it hard at Christmas – the elderly. Their Beaver leader has joined forces with a local care home for elderly people with dementia. The Beavers were invited to collect items to make each resident in the home a Christmas box. They also spent one of their meetings making them individual personalised Christmas cards. These are people who may feel lonely at Christmas time without family around them. Some of them are confused and expecting visits from people that simply may no longer be here. The staff at the home know that giving them something to unwrap on Christmas Day that includes a whole assortment of goodies from chocolate online to hand cream can make a huge difference.
What was a really lovely touch is that the week after the residents received their boxes and cards, they sent Christmas cards back to the Beavers. They’d spent one of their activity afternoons making the cards and they were personalised back to the children who had sent them cards. Master C is often a bit blasé when it comes to giving things to others, yet in this case he was really touched to receive a card back from Edna at the home. It’s been given pride of place on his windowsill and trust me when I say that in his pigsty of a bedroom this is a big deal! I think it’s a lovely way of showing the children that these are real people that they are helping this Christmas time.
Please take a few moments this Christmas time to think about those less fortunate than yourself. Those people that may not have family to share a meal with on Christmas Day. People who may struggle to stretch their budget to cover the Christmas food luxuries that we see on so many adverts at this time of year. Buying a simple extra gift or adding a couple of things to your weekly food shop may not seem to be a huge gesture to you, but to someone else it may well mean the world. Just look what happened when a group of students from a college in Oldham saw that a man in their local community had spent Christmas alone for the last 20 years. It’s impossible to hear Terrence’s story without shedding a tear.