Each year, at this time, we start to get really antsy. Like everyone else, we are caught up in the cycle of searching for gifts for our family and friends. We've done 1/2 the shopping so far but, as many of you know, it's hard on a limited budget, to provide for a large family.
Last night Rob and I had a discussion on what Christmas should be. Neither of us NEED anything much. We have simple tastes and try hard to stick to our budget. Rob's main gift to me is a subscription to Better Homes & Gardens...it's what I want and it arrives each month of the year...so it's the "gift that keeps on giving."
Rob wants a video from me...so that's easy.
I suggested a couple of things we can do to make the season more joyful and less stressful and Rob liked the idea.
1) Put a limit on the price of our gifts for our families...it will make searching for the right thing more interesting and we can start right after the Festive Season has passed.
2) We are going to start the New Year by sponsoring a puppy, to be trained as a Guide Dog. It's going to cost us $10 per month, but the worth of that puppy will be immeasurable to the person who receives it.
3)We had already decided to become part of a Youth Mentoring programme - being a friend to a youngster could be the best gift they will ever receive.
4) Start early in the year collecting things like toothpaste/brushes, soap, undies etc. as gifts for the Street Kids, who are fed and hopefully, will be housed, by Harald's House.
5) Make Birthdays the time to give more expensive presents.
6) Eat lightly...there's no need to gorge just because it's Christmas...it should be about 'quality' not quantity.
Having mentioned Harald's House, I'd like to tell you a little more about Harlad Falge - the founder and tireless worker, who is all heart:
I first encountered Harald over 20yrs ago. He was (and still is) a youth worker with the Cairns Baptist Church. Our family isn't Baptist, but my son Karl, who was about 12 at the time, joined the Boys Brigade...a church run youth organization. Harald used to take the kids away on camps and I credit him with helping to make Karl the self sufficient man he is today. Harald works full time, in his own business, as a Chiropractor (he's good too!) He also has a family. Unfortunately his wife suffers from a mental condition, but, in all the time I've known him, I've never heard him speak of her with anything but love.
He started caring for the Street Kids of Cairns about 15yrs ago. He was walking with his sons, one evening, on the Cairns Esplanade. He was appalled to see young kids...some as young as 8, roaming around, accosting( read prostituting themselves to) tourists and begging. His sons gave him the idea to start a mobile kitchen to feed them. I don't know how he did it...probably twisted a lot of arms ( He's also into martial arts.)...but he did it! His van has become a familiar site at Monro Martin Park and the kids know there are no strings attached.
Harald set his sights on providing a home for these children. So far $170,000 has been raised - but much more is needed. One local builder has offered to build it free of charge. The Cairns City Council is going to find land for it to be built on...so things are in the pipeline. There's an impressive list of sponsors too. Best of all, the Cairns Police are behind the project and have a member on the committee. So much more is needed though. He plans to house 12 youngsters until they finish school and find jobs. He will also provide short term crisis accomodation for another 6.
Yesterday I listened to Harald on the radio. It's that time of year when the kids feel really alone. He was asking that the public consider giving a gift for distribution to the children - nothing big...value approx. $10. He told the listeners that last year, he gave toothbrushes, paste and general hygine items, and that some of the kids were crying because someone cared about them. How much WE take for granted!
If Harald can have room in his heart for all the waifs and strays, then we aren't going to miss the few dollars that it will take, to make the children/teenagers, feel we care too. I'm going to start collecting things right after the start of the New Year.
We are blessed by having caring families, enough to eat and a roof over our heads. We NEED people like Harald to show us how lucky we are
I have the feeling that Christmas is going to be a much happier time for us from now on.