When my children were really little we didn't have a lot of money and so I would buy them undies and socks and their school supplies and they were supplied to Santa (wink, wink) and he would pop them in their stockings along with some little fun items and they still got excited even though they were receiving everyday essential items. I wish I could capture that joy or maybe see it on their faces now when they get a present. As they got a little older and money wasn't such an issue, I was free to buy them games, books and cds and the like and they loved opening them and wanted to play with the toys, or go off and read their books. Undies and socks were still on the gift list, and there are photos of various members of my family with undies on their heads on Christmas morning. Fun times for sure.
This year as well as having a Christmas Day gathering of family we are also having a Christmas Eve celebration with my youngest daughter and her Swedish girlfriend. It has been lovely to have her share their customs with us, and boy has it made me realise that as a nation most Aussies don't have any traditions to do with Christmas. Some of the traditions that she has shared are those of her family, but many are practiced all over Sweden each and every Christmas. In Sweden every year the same cartoons are shown on TV and one in particular has been shown since at least the second world war if not longer. It deals with the ideals of giving to the poor and how they who expect nothing are delighted to receive even the smallest gift. A lesson that all of us should learn from. How often do we inwardly think I wish I had got something else? So to this end, this year I have bought Oxfam gifts for my children as part of their presents - the donation buys a duck, chicken, pig, etc for as little as $10-$20 or for more you can buy a well or a cow or clean water. So somewhere someone is hopefully getting joy from me taking the time to share the spirit of Christmas - and maybe this is what I had been missing all along.
It has also started me thinking about sponsoring a child through World Vision - after all it is only just under $50 per month to do so. Maybe this will be my New Year's contribution to our world - could it be yours too?