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As the so-called ‘Festive Season’ approaches, I can only repeat what I’ve said before.  Some of you will recall having read this before, but most of you won’t. I can’t add anything new, so here it is again…

Christmas, I reckon, has three facets: the religious, the commercial, and the traditional. If none of those rings your bell, you probably feel a bit like I do. Some of you will put your hand up to all three, and others to one or two of them. Doesn’t matter. It’s a personal thing. I’ve got form (as they say in the British cop shows) in all three of those facets. Nowadays I can still get sucked into the family tradition thing pretty easily, but not the rest. All my ‘traditions’ are grounded in the Northern Hemisphere… I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas and all that. (Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow) That doesn’t work very well here in Australia, of course. Not for me, anyway. But, like I say, it doesn’t matter.

If I’m really honest, it isn’t even the hassle of shopping that offends me. It’s the waste. The pointlessness of it. I don’t blame businesses for the commercial greed; it’s their job, after all. I blame us all for having lost track of what is really important.

Well, my friends, I’ve given it all away (so to speak). I know, a lot of families have stopped exchanging gifts, but are you still totally free of Christmas shopping? Didn’t think so. I’ll tell you what I do. I do all my shopping (online) in one place: Oxfam Unwrapped. There are lot’s of variations on the theme–whatever your particular cause or passion is, there no doubt is a charity which will be pleased to take your money on behalf of each individual on your gift list. If you want to make your gifts help the planet, there is a range of great options.

You have enough socks and jocks, so this year I bought you a chicken.”

In the case of Oxfam Unwrapped, (and no doubt many other charities) there is the added fun of picking out a particular present from dozens of choices, and different prices. For example, for $20 you get a card to send to your gift-ee that says  “I was going to get you a book, but you already have one. Here’s a duck instead.” The duck, of course, goes to a family in Africa to provide eggs and pest control. If you want to be a tad more generous, how about a goat?  “I saw this goat and thought of you.” It’s the perfect gift for the person who has lots and the people who have little. If you feel really generous, you can buy someone a bicycle ambulance for $295, to be used in Malawi. Or give a school in Cambodia clean water for only $98.

Kids actually like doing a good deed or helping someone.

Make Christmas giving mean something. I do it for the children on my list as well. I can’t think of a better gift to give them than the awareness of others’ needs and the opportunity to feel that they are helping out. Kids actually like doing a good deed or helping someone. Sure, you can give the kiddies a regular present, too. But I reckon it’s time to stop wasting our money buying things for people who already have lots when there are so many people who have so little. There are other ways to show our loved ones that we love them, but this is a good way to show the rest of the world that someone cares.                MM

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