Christmas is around the corner and everyone is in a bit of a mad rush, making sure we have all the presents sorted, all the food and drink. My children are bursting at the seams with excitement, seeing the Christmas tree for the first time, having their advent calendars, all the little things in the run up to the big day makes their little faces light up and it’s so wonderful, but ultimately the thing that they are most excited about is of course, the presents!
I know pretty much every single toy on the market at the moment courtesy of my children. I have to give it to the toy companies, putting nothing but toy adverts on the breaks of children’s only channels, that’s clever marketing. Every time I turn on the television, shortly after I will be sure to hear the words ‘Look mum, Look mum’ ‘Wow I want that!’ or ‘Please can I have that for Christmas’ I could bet my last tenner on it.
Like my children, and many others, I always thought Christmas was about the presents. I can see it even more now I’m an adult, consuming in the shops, consuming food and drink and basically just a time for people to be greedy, buy more than they can afford and eat more than they can stomach.
One Christmas I must have been 6 or
7 I can’t really remember. But I do remember not getting the Barbie Dream House I wanted, and feeling genuinely gutted. It didn’t matter about all the other lovely presents my mum had bought me, or the fact she had been up all night wrapping them, cleaning houses for that bit of extra cash, or slaving away making the Christmas Dinner. Nope. I didn’t have my Barbie Dream House, so I was a miserable, ungrateful brat for pretty much the entire day.
I also remember a Christmas years later, where I was without my mum. This Christmas in particular, our family was fractured and my mother wasn’t there. I spent Christmas day at my friend Lucy’s house. My sister spent it at her boyfriends. Everyone was split up. I can remember sitting around the table eating Christmas dinner with Lucy and her family, grandparents, mum and sister, and all I could think of at the time was, I want to be with my family.
I was 13 at the time, so all I should have cared about was the presents surely? But gifts didn’t matter, nothing mattered, I just wanted my mum. I mean it was a lovely dinner, and a lovely atmosphere, but I wanted to be with my family, and that’s when it started to sink in for me. I could have had all the fancy gifts in the world that day but it wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference, I would have still missed my mum. I would have traded ten IPad’s or a mountain of Pandora bracelets, just to have us all together on Christmas day.
Fortunately for me this was only one year, some people don’t have that luxury, some people have to face every Christmas without their loved ones by their side, and I’m sure they would echo my sentiments. Yet especially as parents, but even those who aren’t, were still under this immense pressure to make sure we get everyone the gift they want. Ask yourself, if you received that dream gift but didn’t spend time with the person giving it, would you still be happy?
I know it’s incredibly cheesy but it is true, what would Christmas be without the ones you love? Laughing at the cheesy Christmas cracker jokes, watching all the crap on tele, Nan getting too drunk and falling asleep on the sofa, all these things make Christmas special, not the amount of presents under the tree.
So if you’re a parent, or even if you’re not, I know it’s hard but try not to get caught up in the consumerism. Please don’t feel guilty if you can’t afford the latest toys on the market, your children might be disappointed for a while, but there are some children without any presents at all and there are some children without families. I know what I would prefer to wake up to on Christmas morning. The fact you’re worrying about Christmas Day is a credit to you, because the reason you worry so much is because you would literally do anything to see them happy.
I know because I’m still paying off presents from a catalogue from two years ago, this year luckily I didn’t have to do that, but I know many parents out there will have done just that to not let them down. Take it from me, as long as you are there for them, you will never ever let them down and no amount of toys and gifts will ever replace your love.
Recently, I saw someone post to Facebook about her son having too many presents, and she wanted to donate some to children less fortunate than her little boy. Earlier that very day, my caseworker from Action for Children had dropped round presents for my little boys, so I knew exactly where to direct her. Action for Children are a Children’s Charity with a variety of services from Parenting Programmes, Family Support, and Emotional Support for Children during break-ups, and much more. They do lots of fantastic things, especially supporting low income families.
The boys didn’t really need more presents and I felt guilty accepting them but ungrateful if I didn’t. I’m lucky to have family and friends that do all the spoiling for me! But the fact that they were doing this brought a smile to my face. It made me think of all those children that otherwise wouldn’t get anything, for whatever reason, and maybe their family situation, like mine was that one year, had been fractured since they could remember.
So if you think you could spare with a gift or two, then why not contact your local Children’s Centre, they will have lots of agencies working out of them, Families First, Communities First, Barnados, Action for Children, all of them do great work with Children and Families. And, if you can’t spare a present or two – just remember that you really are a doing a great job.
Merry Christmas Everyone xxx
Ely Childrens Centre Contact Details
85-87, Grand Avenue, Ely, Cardiff, CF5 4LE.
(There are also many more across Cardiff, The Vale & Gwent)