It's only just October but already the shops are full of Christmas things. I was at the supermarket and turned into an aisle brimming with Christmas puddings, Christmas cakes, mince pies, and assorted other Christmas goodies. At a department store, I recently walked through the door to be visually assaulted by a fully decorated tree as well as Christmas cards, decorations and other Christmas paraphenalia. Thank goodness they're not bombarding my ears with Christmas carols or pop songs just yet. I used to work in a shop as a teenager and I have never quite gotten over the endless renditions of Wham's 'Last Christmas' or Elton John's 'Step into Christmas' being played over and over... to this day, simply hearing the introduction can start me twitching.
It doesn't stop there though. Oh no. At home I am bombarded with Christmas catalogues, helpfully reminding me of the last date to order and presenting me with all manner of goodies, including some dreadfully tacky and awful items, some of which I wonder who would buy them?! Christmas it would appear, is a time for shopping and for spending hard earned cash on things no-one really wants. Is this what it has become?
Not for me. I love Christmas, I always have done. I love my brightly lit and decorated tree. I love receiving gifts. I love the anticipation that a brightly wrapped box can bring and from knowing that someone has thought of me. I love giving presents just as much though, in fact perhaps more so. Nothing quite beats the warm feeling you get from watching someone unwrap a gift they love.
I came across some presents I had bought and put away for my niece the other day. I wasn't expecting it. I was innocently going through some things and there they were waiting for a birthday that would never come. It made me incredibly sad. I had bought her a little pink handbag and a necklace together with some hair accessories. I didn't know what to do with them. Giving them to a charity shop didn't seem quite right. They had been meant for Jessica. It might sound silly but I wanted them to be appreciated. That was when I thought of 'Operation Christmas Child'.
Operation Christmas Child is an initiative run by the Charity 'Samaritan's Purse'. This is what the web site says: "This annual project enables caring individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses, and other organisations to fill ordinary shoe boxes with small toys, school supplies, sweets, and other gifts for needy children around the world. Operation Christmas Child sends a message of hope to children in need around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes."
It was perfect. I immediately knew that the presents I had bought for Jessica, would make a needy child very happy and that the gift would be truly appreciated. I have filled my shoebox with 'treasure' and wrapped it in bright paper. I have made mine for a girl aged between 10-14 which is the same age group as Jess. I have included: small doll, pencil case and stationary, notebooks, sweets, bouncy balls, necklace, small handbag, hair accessories, hair brush, gloves, scarf, flannel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. The fact that I can do this for someone has made me very happy and seems a very fitting way to honour my niece.
If you would like to help by doing your own shoebox then you can read more *here*. The charity operates internationally so you should be able to find a collection point near you. Christmas is indeed a time for giving.
I will be posting more photographs of Vienna soon...