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What Really Counts

What's happening this Christmas?

It's December again and Christmas decorations are filling malls. Christmas carols are playing in the background, 'SALE' signs everywhere and people hustling to go about their Christmas shopping.

There are gift sets of every kind imaginable; household appliances, gadgets, electronics, furniture, jewellry, food, clothes, shoes, bags, books, things, things, more things.

I sat down and thought about Christmas. There was always something that bugged me mildly about this time of year. It wasn't the decorations, or the fact that SALES were everywhere; it was the fact that I had to buy and receive gifts.

I thought to myself. "I've got everything I need, I don't need anything else" "Why do I still give and receive gifts that I don't really want or need?" I mean, what do I even do with that extra mug I got for Christmas?

Some would argue, but "it's the thought that counts".

So I think about what counts.

What comes to mind naturally (being someone who loves being on-ground, engaging children in urban poor communities and rural interiors) are those who don't have that privilege of exchanging gifts.

I've witnessed children that go to school hungry because their families can't afford to feed them breakfast.

I've witnessed children carrying plastic bags to school to keep what little they have.

I hear of children skip school because of fear of embarrassment that they have only one piece of torn or dirty uniforms.

I have seen a class full of children so happy to share one packet of worn-out, left-over colour pencils brought by a teacher. The highlight of their 'art-class'.

When I think about what counts, it breaks my heart.

Things that we often take for granted, others struggle to provide.

What is all of this disparity? It makes no sense to me. Why am I giving and receiving another Christmas gift that I don't need when there are children in communities around us that go to school hungry, that don't even have proper school uniforms, bags or school supplies?

What comes to mind when I hear "It's the thought that counts"?

I think about a different type of Christmas Wish List.

I don't want another gift going to waste. I want to participate in a different type of gift exchange. Instead of buying gifts for each other, what if we gave on behalf of each other to children in need?

Exchanging 'presents' that would impact lives, instead of sitting at the back of my cupboard or storage unused.

One where I tell all my friends & family that I all want for Christmas this year is to help a child in need. Give towards them instead. We'd exchange meaningful gifts for Christmas that had purpose.

Hence the idea behind 'My Christmas Wish List'

Imagine if everyone joined me in doing the same, a friend giving on behalf of another and another and another, we'd all have less of what we don't need so that children have more of what they do need.

That, to me is what Christmas is all about. Giving towards what really counts. Even after the excitement and bustle of the season slows down, it settles my heart to know that children in communities around me can begin the new year with hope.

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