A time for giving.
A time for families to come together.
A time to toast to good health.
Or is it a time to indulge, spend, give, take, grab and continue to feed into this consumerist money fuelled holiday just to feel normal?
The true meaning of Christmas has well and truly been lost. Whether you are religious or not, this holiday has become so commercialised that we are too worried about grabbing ourselves a bargain on Black Friday than helping those in need.
Every year I am asked the same question; ‘what would you like for Christmas?’ As a child I always had ideas. The list would be written weeks if not months in advance, with pages neatly folded in the Argos catalogue to mark exactly the make and model I desired.
Now, 10 years on, I struggle more and more each year to find an answer for that question. Quite frankly, I don’t need anything. None of us do. If you are reading this, you are fortunate enough to have a computer. That means you have an internet connection which most likely means you have somewhere to call home. Within that home I am sure you have a warm bed in which to sleep, access to clean drinking water and a cupboard full of food.
Many people across the world do not have this, let alone here in the UK. They do not have the luxury of even our most basic assets. Why should I have a shiny new camera or new pair of shoes when others are struggling to find their next meal?
With this in mind, I chose to do Christmas a little different this year. Without feeding into consumerism and asking others to do the same for me, I have traded gifts in return for donations to charity.
I wrote a letter to each member of my family with a list of charities that I would like them to donate to in lieu of buying a gift. I listed the following:
Both my mum and my nan have been affected by breast cancer therefore this charity’s cause is very close to home. The work they do will help us to beat the fight against cancer once and for all.
This incredible Boys & Girls Club is where I volunteered when I visited Tanzania for two months in 2014. The beautiful and inspiring young people I met during my time there will always have a special place in my heart. The money donated goes towards keeping the centre open and making necessary steps towards a self-sustaining future.
Run by the inspirational Marc Ching, this not for profit charity rescues abused and neglected animals from harm. Ching has recently rescued dogs from the asian dog meat trade where he witnessed the cruelty first hand. The work he does is beyond incredible.
Now that the jungle in Calais has been destroyed, many refugees are still without food or shelter. Refugee Action supports Syrian refugees seek asylum throughout Europe and find them a safe place to stay. It is only until we put ourselves in their shoes, hundreds of miles from home, stricken with fear and mentally scarred from conflict, can we truly believe that we can make a difference.
This marine conservation charity fights on the front line on the high seas to end the destruction of habitats and cease poaching of marine wildlife.
Crossover works with Brighton’s homeless and disadvantaged community by providing food and practical support for those in need. After befriending Matt, a homeless man living at the bottom of my road, the work this charity and others alike do, helps people like Matt get back onto their feet.
I am incredibly grateful to have a family who are on board with my choices and are willing to donate to such fantastic causes. Without ever asking for or seeking gratification, a few days ago I received a touching email from Breast Cancer UK and was presented with a certificate. It reads:
What an amazing person you are to give up your Christmas presents to donate to Breast Cancer UK.
You should have received an automated reply after making the donation, however I thought, being so kind, you definitely deserve a special certificate.
Many thanks again Jessica, and from everyone here, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Your kindness is greatly appreciated.’
Such a simple act of kindness from my mum making the donation made an ordinary day feel a little extraordinary. That small act of kindness spread a little joy into three people’s lives that day and that is something that really cannot be argued with.
It is time for us all to get back to the true meaning of Christmas.
If you do anything after reading this, please donate to one of the above causes. I cannot stress enough how incredible the work they do is!