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When people around me think of Christmas, they often think of Christmas parties, presents and decorations and a Christmas tree. However in my house we put up a tree and just minimal decorations. We don't buy lots of Christmas presents, we buy small because to us the thought counts more than quantity or cost.
Most people go to pubs, have parties, have lots of friends and family at their houses celebrating Christmas with them. However our family and friends live quite a way from us, and not only that, Christmas to us is movie nights in, baking, Christmas dinner and we love putting up our tree. Three of our children are adults now, and some of them live elsewhere. We don't buy big presents, instead we pick out things we think they will really like, and we don't spend a fortune.
Some people might be thinking, "Well you're supposed to buy presents at Christmas." When I was a child I used to have a sack full of presents, and I used to do the same when my children were very young. However I watched Soccer Aid on television a while back, and I realized that there were millions of children and families in the world who were lucky to get a decent Christmas dinner, and if they were lucky, one present, while some didn't know what Christmas was.
The general idea behind my thinking, has to do with family values. Christmas is not just about giving, it is about love, being grateful for the people you have in your life, thought and caring. I believe that buying expensive gifts does not teach your children to value what they have or how to value their money. Teaching children to do this is an important part of growing up. Seeing the reality of families struggling in third world countries is very painful, and some of the things I saw on Soccer Aid were heart-breaking. Some children even where I live, are in a position where many parents also struggle at Christmas time.
I remember my own struggle back in 1997 when I became a single parent. I was on a very low income with two children, and I painfully struggled to buy my two young children Christmas presents at the time. A couple of days before that Christmas, I was broken into and all my hampers and Christmas presents that I bought for the children had been stolen. If it wasn't for my family pulling together, the children would have been without a single present. That Christmas, we spent it in a women's aid hostel, not the best of places to spend Christmas with the children, but they were so grateful for what they did get.
This Christmas, I am still putting up my tree as I do every year, and I will be buying minimal presents. Christmas will be with my husband, sons and my daughters. We will spend most of our Christmas at home, but as always our house will be full of love and happiness and we will all be grateful for just having the love of family, which is more than some people have, because there will be many lonely people without families, friends, presents and even Christmas presents this year.
My message to everyone is, when your celebrating and buying this year, spare a thought for those people without. Remember Christmas is more than just expensive presents, it is about love, caring, sharing, happiness, joy, and even spending Christmas alone with Christmas dinner, is better than spending Christmas with nothing.