Yesterday I went shopping to Stockland Earlville. No really amazing information for you all in that. What I saw when I wandered through the centre (well, as much as you can actually 'wander' with two small children in tow anyway) was mind boggling.
It appears that it's Christmas time already folks, the decorations are out, Christmas trees are erected, Santa's chair is ready to go and toys are literally EVERYWHERE! I found some truly amazing things along the way too. A large chocolate Santa (for those who would like to combine Christmas with Easter), a big envelope made of red felt that said 'Letters to Santa' on the front (for those who need a carry bag to get a letter from home to the Post Office) and tiny little elf costumes made of polyester (for those who wish to find out how long it takes a baby to pass out from heat exhaustion on Christmas Day in the tropics).
Everything in every store is on sale just waiting for you to get excited about the price, even if you don't really need the product. Layby queue's are long, filled with mothers trying to attack the huge layby totals with gusto so that they can actually feed the family at Christmas time, as well as watch the kids open 60 perfectly wrapped things they never knew they wanted. Some stores are even offering interest free loans for jewellery, camping equipment and toys. This practice encourages those who really can't afford it, to buy up big and spend the next two years paying for one days entertainment. I guess they don't call it the silly season for nothing!
At this point you are probably wondering if I am some sort of Scrooge who hates Christmas and all that it entails. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am Christmas obsessed. I decorate my house, my lounge room, line up at the mid year toy sales for hours on end, get my children to write letters to Santa and generally spend all year on the look out for the perfect gifts for family and friends. I ask everyone who wants to buy me a gift to get me vouchers that I can use on Boxing Day because nothing pleases me more than the throngs of people pushing and shoving each other to get to the last 70% off item in the store. I love it. All of it. It's people like me who are attracted to all of those bizarre Christmas gimmicks and this is the reason I dislike them so much. Stick the 'sucker' label on me and call me foolish but I came home with yet another layby and a bag full of knick knacks that have no purpose except to please my eye on Christmas Day.
My favourite part of Christmas though, is the giving. My children have a large extended family so they really don't require a whole lot from us. Unfortunately there are plenty of children who do not have the luxuries we do and will miss out on the spectacle that is a Christmas with all the trimmings. These kids will wake on Christmas Day with all of the same excitement but without the bonuses of knowing that Santa got you what you wanted, or that the house will soon fill with people bearing gifts and plates of food for everyone to share.
You can't love Christmas without wishing that these kids could have a chunk of the fun bits that my kids will have. Thankfully, there are numerous charities with hands outstretched, who will help give as many kids as possible just a small taste of a carefree, joyous Christmas Day. The Salvation Army does this job brilliantly, the Mayors Christmas Cheer Appeal is a easy one for most of us to support if you attend the Carol night because there you can help to fill the coffers. The K-Mart and Target trees are right in front of us. It's not too hard to add a gift to the already huge layby's, wrap it up and put it under the trees. Get the kids to do it, teach them that Christmas is not the same for everyone and they should be very grateful for the merriment they experience every year.
There are many, many more ways to help out at this time of year. Even the donation of time is something that will be appreciated by anyone who needs it. So next time you wander through the shops looking for Christmas delights, have a little think about how you can add some luxury to the season for those who can't afford to add it themselves. It's Christmas time, give a little (or a lot), it's what the season is all about.