As Christmas lurches toward us with its usual gusto, I’ve been thinking about our Christmas plans and bemoaning the whole commercialisation of the festive season.  Yeah, I know – Bah humbug!

My teenage children have asked for expensive gifts, which I’m sure they know they won’t be getting – but there’s no harm in asking, is there? I refuse to give in to the begging chorus of, “But everyone else is getting an iPhone 6 for Christmas!” Sorry, not in this house!

Sadly, our family has shrunk in the past few years, with the passing of several beloved members, and the fracture of our extended family as a consequence of divorce. However, we are very fortunate that a smaller version of our family will be together for Christmas – even if we don’t have iPhones under the tree – and I think that’s something to be truly grateful for.

It’s at this time of year that I think about all the lonely people out there, the people with no family living nearby, or just no family, period. There are those who are homeless and families with young children who don’t have the funds to purchase gifts for them.  Christmas is a really tough time of year for these people.

As Peace on Earth is sadly quite unlikely this Christmas, I got to thinking that perhaps we can all do our bit to deliver goodwill to other people. Goodwill to all men is a big ask, but if each of us were to do just one small good thing for a fellow human, think of how much better the world would be.

So, I got to thinking – What can we do to help someone else enjoy their Christmas? Surely this is what the festive season is really all about.

For many years, our family has donated gifts to the Wishing Tree at K-Mart, which are then distributed to people in need by The Salvation Army and Mission Australia. Our children have really enjoyed doing this – and I explained to them every year that there are so many people who have very little, and how lucky they are to have what they do have – they may roll their eyes but I’m pretty sure they get the message.  On the Wishing Tree, there are tags where you can write the age and sex of the person you’re buying a gift for.  It used to be mainly children who needed gifts, but there’s been an increase in the number of older people in need of some Christmas love too. This year, we’ll give several gifts, in the hope that a few more people will have something small to open on Christmas Day.

A lovely lady in our local community runs a Christmas lunch for anyone who has nowhere to go or is on their own. Backed by charity and run by volunteers, this service is invaluable to those without loved ones on Christmas Day.

Even if you don’t have the time to volunteer or the funds to make a sizable donation to charity, here are some simple ways you can make someone’s Christmas better:

  1. Donate a gift to the Wishing Tree at K-Mart or your local church
  2. Donate a food hamper to a charity who distributes them to the needy
  3. If you can’t afford a food hamper, get together with friends and donate an item from each person or family to make up a hamper
  4. Contact a local charity who distributes hampers and ask if they need any volunteers to pack and/or distribute the hampers
  5. If you know someone without a family nearby, invite them to join yours for Christmas lunch
  6. Got an old handbag you don’t use? Fill it with personal items such as a hairbrush, face cleanser or moisturiser, sanitary pads, etc. and give it to a charity which works with homeless women
  7. Take the time to thank retail and hospitality staff who help you – it’s their busiest time of the year and they are often exhausted

These are just a few suggestions of small things we can do. Have you given back to the community at Christmas – or any other time of year? What did you do to help? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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