I’ve a little bit of an issue with Christmas this year, I must confess, which is most unlike me, as I’m usually a very big fan. I’m a veritable Mrs. Claus, in fact, that’s who I want to be when I grow up, and I’m thinking I’d do a pretty good job of it. I love everything Christmas stands for; a miracle baby, the Nativity, togetherness, the sharing of meals and wine and company, and the creating of wonderful, happy memories.
Oh those memories!
I have such fond recollections of my childhood; stockings and mince pies waiting for Santa, family nativity performances, with under-knee skirts on our heads, a scrumptious “bird” with the family and lots and lots of brightly coloured presents under the tree.
And it’s the presents I’m starting to struggle with this year.
I take such pleasure in writing out my Christmas list, carefully thinking and choosing gifts for family and friends, hoping that it will be a gift which brings joy and is something that is actually wanted! My feelings towards this Christmas bounty, therefore, isn’t down to me being a bit Scroogey, or not being bothered to buy, it comes from a whole other place entirely:
Since having Sam, Christmas has once again turned in to a magical delight, revolving around watching him do things; dress up as an elf, eat a label and tentatively try cranberry sauce for the very first time. I’ve realised just how fortunate our lives are. We have each other, we finally, finally, finally have our little miracle and we’re utterly blessed. My little boy wants for nothing, he always has a full tummy, clothes, warmth, a roof over his head, love, safety and joy and laughter. He often tells me he’s “happy mummy”, and what more could any of us really want for a child of two?
I’ve been incredibly overwhelmed by the generosity, and thoughtfulness, which has been shown to him, even before he was born, through gifts. I’ve learned that people are so kind and so sweet when it comes to buying for Sam. Especially at Christmas!
Now of course I don’t want him to miss out on the magic of good ole Father C, of splendid presents under the tree and excitable Christmas mornings, wondering if he’s been; all things I oh so happily remember from, what now feels like, the days of yore! but I do want to raise him to be mindful, to be gracious and to know that he is fortunate whilst some others aren’t.
So how can I do this?
I was recently chatting to a lovely friend, about this very subject, and she, very beautifully, suggested:
Why not simply give back?
With every door opened on the advent calendar encourage giving. My friend suggested donating to a food bank, it could, however, be through toys or clothes to a charity shop, or even a small donation of money, or time, to a good cause. Or why not give back a good deed every day throughout December, she suggested, and encourage the whole family to do so; smile at a stranger, hold open a door or take the pup on an extra walk, yes, even when it’s cold and rainy. Little things which could really make a difference between the expectation of gifts, and knowing that we’re actually pretty darn lucky to be receiving them. Simple ideas, which I would like to become tradition for my family.
I’m aware that Sam is only two and that these are big concepts for him to grasp, however, I firmly believe it’s never too early to start! The last two years Sam hasn’t understood this whole Christmas malarkey at all, and yet we’ve already started him on the stories and ideas of what it’s all about; nobody has suggested he’s too young for that!
I feel incredibly fortunate to enter this festive season feeling truly blessed. I’m aware that, for some, Christmas isn’t always the happy occasion greetings cards and films make us believe. It can be a time of stress and loneliness, of grief and anguish, goodness only knows that being childless, by involuntary means, was never easy at this time of year. For some folk, finances are tight, loved ones are missed and, let’s be honest here, sad things don’t stop simply because we’re all sat around wearing paper crowns. It’s important, to me, to be mindful that life isn’t the same for one and all, that it doesn’t always go to plan and that just because the Western calendar tells us all we should be happy on December 25th, that’s not the case for everyone.
And that’s why, in my family, we’re going to strive to try and give a little back, remember to give thanks for all we have and, over the years, help teach our son that, despite the presents waiting for him under the tree, humility and kindness are, in fact, the real gifts of Christmas.