I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my churches initiative this Christmas to “Light the World” through random acts of kindness and opportunities to help those in our families and wider communities. We have been doing it for 10 days now and as a family have thoroughly enjoyed doing things for others, as well as noting a real Christmas spirit in our hearts and lives as we have found little ways to light up life for those we know (and don’t know) through baking, cooking meals, helping them, and offering words of love and inspiration.
It has been lovely to see peoples smiles and hear them grateful to see us and have us visit with them (and even crack out the occasional Christmas carol)! But the biggest thing that touched me this last week during all of this was the 90 minutes we spent one evening with Yorkshire Aid helping them wrap Christmas gifts and sort donations. We weren’t the only family in attendance, and there weren’t the recipients there for us to observe their smiles and joy that someone thought of them this Christmas, and it was a lot more graft and emotionally demanding than baking a few cookies to deliver to someone. But it was also a great opportunity to teach the kids about Refugees and the crisis that is ripe in the world.
It would be easy as a parent to shelter them from the suffering in the world, or hide these things and have them believe all is well and life is great for all as they are so blessed and want or need for nothing. But I feel that I would be doing them a great injustice and missing out on opportunities to show them that lots of people suffer and we can in small ways aid them. I want them to think of others and seek ways to lift those who haven’t been as fortunate. This is teaching love for others instead of breeding hate and distrust.
Initially they whined (a lot) at the thought of going to “help someone” instead of swimming, and it greatly shook me to the core to think they would be so selfish. I figured they just needed a little understanding, and after stood in the street for several minutes explaining that there are many many people who have been driven from their homes by bad people with guns, many who have seen people die and have been forced to leave their toys, clothes and beds, they began to get a glimpse. I explained they were in need of someone to play Santa for them this Christmas, as well as some warm clothes, and they warmed up to the idea. They were sad and a little cross too as we headed to town and purchased a boy, girl and baby gift, along with food and toiletries.
When we got home I was touched when Ethan went and got his minion wellies and last winters coat and said “they can have them, I have others”. And after dinner it was no longer a trial but an adventure as we took them and the things we had bought, (along with some towels and warm blankets we had sorted out) and donated them and helped out for a bit.
The workers there were incredibly grateful and both Ethan and Megan stood and helped them to wrap their gifts and more. We then proceeded to help with a few small tasks of sorting bedding to go to France and a couple of other things, before making a speedy exit after the kids turned the said bedding piles into a trampoline!!!
It hit me at what Christmas would mean for these people… cold and needing used bedding from others. Kids grateful for even the smallest of toys. Food from tins and dried packets! Far from the Christmas we are anticipating.
It was a pleasure, though very small, to be able to offer some help (alongside my family) to those who suffer because of the evil choices of others.
I cannot begin to fathom the attitudes of those who choose to ignore the refugee crisis or with hold aid. To see what is given to them, and to know how they treasure it is both sad and humbling! I learnt from seeing this first hand last week that even the smallest of donations and gifts (of things or time) will mean the world and light up the life of individuals. This isn’t going to go away any time soon and if you can help in someway then go for it!I was certainly grateful for the opportunity to show my kids what Christmas will be like for others comparative to theirs and they are beginning to see and learn that there is always something we can do to help those who are suffering in the world however small it seems to us. I hope in the new year that perhaps we can do more as a family and show them more about refugees and their individual journey’s to a better life, as this was a good start.