That’s right, I’m challenging you to look at the little luxuries you have in your home in the run up to the holiday period, levy a self-imposed tax on your lifestyle and the gifts you receive and send the money to a worthy cause. I know this sounds mawkish and more than a little like a remake of A Christmas Carol but it’s hard to write about the desire to help others at Christmas without sounding like one’s preaching or narrating a Victorian melodrama.
Though I once nearly signed up to drive a truck to Split one Christmas during the so-called Balkan Crisis, I’ve never even managed to work in a soup kitchen on Christmas Day. However, we have always tried to make sure that our good fortune as a family is shared with others less fortunate and in a way that’s not self-serving. I would point out that, whilst SWMBO and the older sprogs are Christians, this has got nothing to do with religion, simply doing what is right and paying things forward. A few years back, we befriended and worked to assist a single parent from Uganda in her challenge to make the enormous adjustment to settling in the UK after her escape. We helped her set up home and, when Christmas Eve arrived, we visited her with a few things like decorations and presents to give to her children. Satisfied that we had done what we could without patronising or embarrassing our new friend, we spent a happy Christmas Day morning opening the presents we had received from each other. Answering a knock at the door, we found our Ugandan friend standing outside with a large package wrapped in second-hand wrapping paper. Refusing to come in, she offered the package with a few words then turned and left. We opened the package to find a ‘Welcome’ door mat, the cheap woven kind that one would find in every pound-shop up and down the country. Knowing her weekly income was less than we would spend on a family meal out and that the pound she had spent on the mat was no small percentage, I was lost for words and stood there quietly with a lump in my throat. I am under no illusions whatsoever as to who received the greater gift.
With this in mind and whilst catching up on my blog reading, I noticed that fellow blogger Ian has posted a couple of related links. The first is to a page by Elaine M. Gibson giving a few timely reminders on Keeping Christmas Simple and avoiding the pitfalls of festive overload. Another link took me to the Buy Nothing Christmas 04 web site. The ‘About’ pages states that “Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites who offer a prophetic “no” to the patterns of over-consumption of middle-class North Americans.” Whilst I am neither a middle-class North American nor a Christian, I applaud the initiative to move the focus of the holiday away from spending and excess. I have taken the liberty of adapting the following from the site:
On each day of December leading up to Christmas, count the appropriate privilege as specified below and keep a running total. Once you have opened your last Christmas gift, calculate the total and send the money to a group that fights poverty or, if you prefer, your chosen charity.
1st 10p for every hot water tap in your home
2nd 75p for every vehicle your family owns
3rd 5p for every pair of jeans you own
4th 25p if your family subscribes to the newspaper
5th 5p for every bed in your home
6th 3p for every beauty or makeup item you own
7th 3p for every pair of footwear
8th 3p for every light switch in your house
9th 20p for every bath or shower
10th 10p for every flush toilet
11th 2p for every bar or dispenser of soap
12th 15p if you have dishes to eat from
13th 15p if you have cooking pots in your cupboards
14th 5p for every window in your house
15th 10p for every outside door
16th 20p for every television in your house
17th 5p for every magazine subscription
18th 25p if your family has more than 25 CD’s (music or video)
19th 5p for every meal you had meat with this past week
20th 10p for every non-water beverage you drank yesterday
21st 25p if you have a petrol/electric lawn mower or strimmer
22nd 3p for every item of hair care products
23rd 15p for every bedroom in your house
24th 5p for every blanket in your house
25th 15p for every gift you received this Christmas
My personal total amounts to Â£6.40 not (including Christmas presents yet) and will be added to and despatched on the 27th.
Categorised as: Uncategorized