It’s just 11 days before Christmas and most Barbadians are getting ready for the big day – house cleaning, decorating, gift shopping, and the whole works. It’s no wonder Andy Williams penned It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But is it really?
While most look forward with delight to the season, for some it’s a dreaded time of the year because they are unable to afford the house makeover, the wrapped niceties exchanged between loved ones, and the extra culinary delights loaded on tables at celebration after celebration.
Ironically, while Christmas has been dubbed as the season of giving and supposedly celebrates the greatest gift ever given to mankind – Jesus Christ – the meaning of the season is often lost in the hustle and bustle of the festivities.
Frankly, our giving is often restricted to our inner circles and now, more than ever, when current economic conditions have forced most to cut back, we need to be reminded that the true spirit of Christmas lies not in materialism, but in sharing, caring and love.
Of course, we should not hold back on expressing our love and appreciation to those near and dear to us, but that should not be to the exclusion of some among us who genuinely need help.
Isn’t Christmas the perfect time to spread love and good cheer?
And what of those organizations that make it their business to reach out to the vulnerable among us? There are many worthy of our attention and financial support during this time of year.
Does the image of a red kettle ring a bell?
As it has done for decades, the Salvation Army, a charitable organization which faithfully caters to the needy, launched its red kettle campaign earlier this month.
Most would have been greeted by the army’s members and volunteers as they traversed supermarkets, stores and other businesses.
The organization which provides daily lunches, clothing, food hampers and more to the needy year round is aiming to raise $250,000 to successfully run its campaign.
In an update today, Communication Relations Director Major Denzil S Walcott reported that they had only raised $87,500 or just about 35 per cent of their target, and urged Barbadians to give more.
Said Walcott: “To be at 35 per cent two weeks before Christmas, we would need your help. We would need good giving for the next two weeks. Where we are it is quite possible that we will fail our target by at least 25 per cent and we don’t want that because we have the programmes in place that we need to get financed.”
Admittedly, Barbados on a whole is experiencing a prolonged economic downturn. Households and businesses have been feeling the pinch on all fronts.
But imagine what it must be like for those who had little or nothing to start with. This is why we can’t afford to stop giving.
There is perhaps no better way to celebrate Christmas than to help others who have less, or nothing at all.
Generosity has long been a hallmark of the Barbadian society. It has always been common for families and neighbours to share whatever they have with each other and this was not restricted to money, but included food, clothing, a room and even company.
We need to see a return of that old spirit and less of the ‘I want new curtains; I want a new Smart TV; I want the new Samsung 8; I want, I want, I want’, especially when most times these are not needs and we run ourselves into unnecessary debt merely to keep up with the Joneses.
The holiday season should inspire the best in all of us.
There are numerous opportunities to give during the Christmas season. Those toys, shoes and clothing that are all outgrown but still in good condition can be passed on to benefit someone else. Perhaps we can pick up an extra loaf of bread or a bag of apples to give away or we can purchase more economical gifts and give an affordable sum to the Salvation Army or a charity of our choice.
More importantly, giving is not only restricted to digging deep into your pocket. One can easily bring holiday cheer to the sick or elderly by visiting patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital or visiting a nursing home. One can reach out to a lonely neighbour or relative with a phone call or a short visit. Invite someone who has no place to go for Christmas lunch.
There are so many ways to give and, in so doing, we’ll get back an even more precious gift that can’t be wrapped up in a box with a bow – the simply joy of giving.