Share a little to have a simply great Christmas
Monday 7 December 2009
Share a little to have a simply great Christmas
Christmas is a time for sharing - not just gifts, but a little of yourself too.
Auckland City Mission is encouraging everyone to remember the great gifts that come out of a few caring thoughts, a little time, and a small amount of effort.
“Many families are experiencing extreme financial pressure this year,” said City Missioner, Diane Robertson, “But that doesn’t mean Christmas can’t be celebrated. We’re not suggesting that you give up on gifts, just that you think about some of the simple things you can do that mean so much to others, and of the others who have so little.”
Auckland City Mission has compiled a list of ten great gift ideas that require only a kind heart and some spare time.
“At Christmas we should think about what really matters - making time for family, sharing a cup of tea with a neighbour, remembering those who are less fortunate,” said Ms Robertson, “In these difficult economic times ‘the thought’ really does count.”
Over the Christmas period, the Mission will supply more than 2,500 Auckland families with an emergency food parcel, and host another 2,000 people for Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day. Additional food and thousands of gifts for disadvantaged children will be distributed by the Mission’s network of community groups across the region, from Rodney in the north, through to Franklin in the south.
Top ten Christmas gifts
Some simple ways to share a little this Christmas
Gift 1 – Made with
Give something you have made.
• Get the kids involved in making cards and decorations. There are plenty of ideas on the internet. Put ‘make christmas gifts’ into Google and start working your way through the 78,300,000 results. This should help keep the children busy before Christmas – and in the year ahead.
• If you are the top baker in the family, make a cake for someone you love. Even better, give them a recipe book – or offer them a free lesson in how to make it themselves! Not everyone knows how to bake these days – so make sure that the secret of caramel meringue slice is passed on to future generations.
• If you’re a gardener, take some cuttings of favourite plants and grow them as gifts. If someone in the family is living in an apartment, pot them a mini-herb garden
Gift 2 – Time
It’s easy to get so busy we never get to spend time with the people who really matter to us. So make time to spend with your family and friends.
• If you have children, ask each child to plan a special day– and then make it happen. You’ll probably end up spending the day at the zoo and the beach. What’s not to love about that? And your child will appreciate the gift of a whole day of your time.
• Do the same with your parents, or older relations who don’t have immediate family nearby. Find out what they would love to do or see that they might not otherwise get round to organising. Take a day and share the experience with them.
• Give time to yourself. Christmas can be stressful, especially if you are the one in charge of the cooking, the present buying, and keeping the peace. Come on – you know who you are! Remember - you are important too. Schedule in time out for yourself to rest – and to do the things that you want to do over the holidays.
Gift 3 – Take the hassle
We all know people who just never manage to get organised. Offer a hand. Share your skills.
• If you’re a home maintenance expert, offer to change lightbulbs, wash down that mouldy wall, sort out that dodgy step in the garden.
• Offer to help someone who is always planning to ‘clean out the garage and get rid of a whole lot of junk.’ If they say yes, set a date and time.
• This one starts at home. If you’re always promising to tidy up that bedroom, hang those pictures, or clean the windows – surprise everyone by doing it.
Gift 4 – Fun
Make the effort to give the gift of fun. Turn off the television and make a plan.
• Get some plastic cricket bats, pack a picnic, slip slop slap, and head to the beach. It’s the cricket season. Don’t leave all the glory to the Black Caps or White Ferns. Develop the confidence of the budding Vettori or Watkins in your whanau. Anyone who doesn’t want to play is in charge of commentary and refreshments.
• Charades. Cheap, traditional, and guaranteed to make you laugh. An oldie but a goodie.
• Get out that favourite funny film. Something you know will make you laugh. Or rent an old time classic. Set up a home movie theatre experience – put someone in charge of popcorn, someone in charge of icecreams. Create ‘tickets’ and get everyone to draw a ticket out of a hat for allocation of chairs. Sit back and enjoy.
Gift 5 – Celebration
Even when times are hard, we can celebrate what is good in our lives.
• Give yourself the gift of appreciation. Make a list of all the things in your life that are worth celebrating. The people you love, the things you do that you love, your community, the great memories. Keep the list, and plan to add to it each year.
• Celebrate the people you love. “How do I love you? Let me count the ways.” There is nothing better than hearing why someone loves you.
Gift 6 – Peace on earth
Christmas can be a trying time. We suddenly have to spend a lot more time with the people closest to us – and that isn’t always easy. Recognise that, and choose to have a peaceful holiday.
• Don’t bring up old arguments. Let past disagreements stay in the past.
• Learn to count. When your partner does that really annoying thing that drives you crazy and you feel like exploding – count to ten. Breathe. Still angry. Count to twenty. Wait until you are calm. Then talk to them about it.
• This is a great gifts for kids to give each other. That brother or sister that bugs you? Don’t react. Count, count again, and count again until you feel calm. Peace on earth for your parents.
Gift 7 – Neighbourliness
Christmas is a time of the year to look over the fence. See who in your neighbourhood is struggling. Who is alone? Who has few opportunities?
• Check out with an elderly neighbour whether there is anything you can do. Help to weed the garden, an offer to put in a few tomato plants, or walk the dog can make a difference to someone who is finding life a struggle.
• Invite the neighbours in. When you spend a lot of time alone, a cup of tea in someone else’s house, can be a welcome break from your own company.
• Choose make this a gift in the year ahead, not just a one-off.
Gift 8 – The family silver
There are many gifts left to us from past generations. A beautiful museum. Regional parks. The Civic Theatre. Magnificent churches. Volcanic cones. All available to enjoy at little or no cost. Give yourself and your family the gift of enjoying these treasures all Aucklanders share.
Gift 9 – A better world
It’s a complex world we live in, and the problems we face can feel overwhelming. When you choose to do something that will build a better world, you give a gift that can last generations.
• Donate. If you like the work a charity does, and you want to support that work, make a donation. Even better, sign up to be a regular donor, giving a small amount each week or each month. It’s a practical way to make a difference.
• Volunteer. There are many opportunities to volunteer, from choosing to referee or coach sport, to providing support to refugees settling in New Zealand.
• Volunteer – and donate as well. Twice the gift!
Gift 10 – Forgiveness
This is a toughie. It’s the biggest gift to give – and the hardest, which is why it is the last on my list. People behave badly. Sometimes they don’t know how bad their behaviour is. Sometimes they know it is bad but they just don’t want to admit it. Sometimes they just don’t care. When someone has hurt you, the most powerful gift you can give them, and yourself, is the gift of forgiveness.
• When you choose to give the gift of forgiveness, you’re recognising that humans are far from perfect. You’re investing in hope that some day the person who has hurt you will understand and maybe make amends. You’re making a brave choice to walk away from the satisfaction of feeling angry. Most importantly, you are making a choice, to put the hurt behind you and look forward. That hope is at heart of Christmas.