Traditionally Christmas is a time for giving and sharing. All over the world people are making plans to be with the people they love, their family and friends. Once December arrives there is a shopping frenzy. That is why I like to shop for gifts early or online.
The giving of gifts goes back thousands of years when gifts were bought to the baby Jesus to celebrate his birth. However, today people give gifts for the simple reason of showing someone else they care.
I heard a funny story this week about 8-year-old children who were performing a nativity play. Roles were cast, including the three wise men who bought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The children came on to the stage bearing gifts. One said, ‘I bring you gold.’ The other said ‘I bring you myrrh’ and the other child said, ‘Frank sent this.’ [Laugh out loud].
Is Christmas a time to appreciate the naivety of children? All children deserve a happy childhood. Christmas is a time to laugh with them, not at them.
Christmas is a time for compassion
I heard the story about the mystery woman who went into Mr Toys Toyworld, Burleigh Waters on the Gold Coast. She paid for all the lay-bys in the store – $16,000 worth. She also paid the bill for other shoppers. All up her gift giving was worth $20,000. Her purpose was to spread joy to others and give children a joy filled Christmas. In doing this she showed she had compassion and care for others.
Christmas is a time to care for others
There are other ways apart from paying someone’s shopping bill that we can care for others this Christmas. In my city there was a list of families in the local paper, families on a low income. They need others to show support and care for them this Christmas.
The idea is that you buy gifts for a family. They are identified only by gender, and with children by age. For example, mother, boy 7 years, girl 5 years. Not-for-profit organisations organise and arrange the giving of gifts. The giver and the receiver do not know one another.
I made a fruit cake for the staff at the medical practice I attend, nurses, administration, and doctors. I signed it off with ‘Kathryn’. But most people would not know who I was, apart from the one nurse I handed it to. I was unsure if my gift would be accepted. Would they want a home-made fruit cake? I did not want to know, so I did not ask. If they put it in the bin, I am fine with that. It was a gift of appreciation and what they do with it after it is accepted is not my concern.
Christmas is the time to practice the art of gift giving
There is an art to gift giving and Christmas is the perfect time to practice. The true art of giving is in the receiving. For some people it is easier to give, than to receive.
The art of gift giving works like this. The giver gives and the value of their gift is in the giving. The art of gift giving is not to give the most expensive gift. It is the intent, the motive for the gift. The giver expects nothing in return. The receiver also plays a key part in the art of gift giving. Their role is to accept the gift with gratitude.
I learnt the art of gift giving from my Maternal great-grandmother, Mary. Whenever Mary was given a gift, she would gratefully receive it. If the gift was a pumpkin and she had another 20 pumpkins in the backyard, the gift was accepted and appreciated.
I have given produce from my garden to others. One more recent memory was that the person said to me ‘I have plenty of those in my garden’ and rejected the gift. It could have been gratefully received and passed on to someone else. Even if it was placed in the compost I would have been fine with that.
I like the concept of gift transfer. That is, if you have the item you do not have to mention it is surplus to your needs. Show gratitude and pass it on to someone else. There is always someone else who will need and appreciate the gift.
Christmas is a time for children to experience love and joy
I saw on the news this week a story about two Queensland foster children who were forcible taken from their foster parents. I worked in child protection in Queensland for 18 years. I recall a case when I was a team leader supporting a caseworker to remove children from their biological family. While the action was ‘in their best interest’ the children did not want to be taken away. The two children were crying and hanging on to the verandah rails.
My assessment of the situation was that it would be detrimental to remove the children under the circumstances and at that point in time. I phoned my manager and explained my reasoning for us to delay the intervention. If we had forcibly removed the children at that time they would have been further traumatised.
Therefore, I was shocked to see the vision of Queensland police handcuffing a 14-year-old and forcibly removing her and her 9 years old sibling from their foster family. Yes, it is a complex story, but Child Safety Services (CSS) must have experienced staff who can negotiate and counsel? The children had been living with the foster family for 8 years. What I saw was a brutal display of power and control.
What children in these circumstances need is protection and compassion? I hope sensibility prevails and skilled CSS staff spend time with these children, and they get what they want for Christmas.
Christmas is a time for … giving, loving, showing compassion and spreading joy
I close with a quote from Bob Hope. Anyone around my age will have heard of Bob Hope.
My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?