I know people get annoyed when Christmas decorations come out earlier and earlier every year. I have seen full-fledged arguments online about the acceptable date for Christmas tree erection (and yes that is how they referred to it). Not me though, put your tree up in September, leave your Christmas lights up all year long, do what makes you happy. There is never really a bad time to hear Michael Bublé sing Let it Snow, while you’re are escaping the 40-degree heat by standing in the Coles frozen foods section.
I must admit, I’m more cheerful about Christmas than most mum’s because years ago our family discovered the secret to making it stress-free. I still buy presents for the kid. She is the only one under 18 in our family and let’s face it; she has put up with me all year and deserves a treat. The rest of the family made an agreement the year I turned 25 (I can even tell you the exact date – Boxing Day 2004). We were sitting at my grandma’s house knee-deep in wrapping paper as we watched the death toll rise as the news reports came through on the Tsunami in Indonesia. Without a word, we got out our credit card, dialled the donation hotline and passed the phone around the lounge room.
With that in mind and my grandma’s strict instructions not to buy her anything she has to dust, the hardest thing about Christmas shopping is finding a new charity.
We have some regular favourites. Oxfam cards that pay for a goat or give start-up money to women to start a business in a developing country. The Rural Fire Service and Barnardos. One of my favourites was buying my mum a subscription to The Stick – a magazine put together by the amazing Samuel Johnson who runs, Love Your Sister. It gathered together some of the best writers in the country. You can still buy the back issues online, and they are well worth a read. While your there, grab a copy of Samuel’s books Dear Dad and Dear Santa.
The year of the 2016 election in the US. I made my own Christmas Cards with Vistaprint, and for every card I sent out, I donated to Planned Parenthood.
I want to get the kid started early, so although she still gets gifts, it’s important to me that she understands that the best part of Christmas (hell the best part of life), is what you can do for other people. We made our own advent calendar several years ago. There is an envelope for each day with a chocolate in it, but there is also a note about something nice she has to do for someone else that day. We have donated toys, clothes, filled a bag for a woman in need for the In The Bag collection.
As a society, we tend to measure success in goals and money. On where we live or what school we went to. I will measure my success as a parent by the kindness and empathy expressed by my child. I'll ensure she is aware that it was just dumb luck that we were born in a country that is not constantly under the threat of civil war, where there is plenty of food and where she is free to get an education. I want her to know that how much I love her isn’t shown by the price tag on the toys I buy her. I want her to make decisions based on ethics and morals, not on the need to have more than the guy next door.
I tucked her into bed last night and found this drawing (above) as I was cleaning up. I think we are on the right path.