This is a story I would like the kids in your house to read.
Times are tough and many of you may not get the Christmas presents that you are hoping for. Some of you may not even get anything at all.
But let me tell you a quick story. The Smile Breakfast Team visited the SA Children’s Home a few days ago. It’s a facility for children between the ages of six and 18, who are either orphaned or whose parents are not able to look after them for some reason. It’s a pleasant enough place with a stunning view of Table Mountain and some wonderful amenities for the kids. But no matter how great it is and how admirable a job the loving social workers and caretakers do, it’s not home.
When I visited, most of the kids had been sent on holiday with relatives or other families who take pity on them, not wanting them to feel alone over the Christmas time.
But there were five children who stayed behind. One of them had just graduated from college and doesn’t have any family at all, so he will be staying behind. Another 6-year-old boy had been returned to the home by the courts a few days earlier, after he went back to his mom and dad two years ago. He will also have to stay during the holidays, because there isn’t any family to go to.
Finally, I met three little girls playing out in the back yard. They had arranged chairs in two rows and were pretending to be on a bus going on holiday somewhere. One of the girls, an eight-year-old was the one with the vivid imagination. Lindy and I chatted with them a little and watched them play, happy and nowhere near as sad as we might imagine.
I’m sure you get the point by now. These kids have a roof of their heads and they are fed very well in beautiful surroundings. And yes they are shown a tremendous amount of love from the caregivers, but they won’t have their moms and dads around. I’m sure you’ll agree that that takes away from Christmas a great deal.
It’s wonderful to receive gifts, but somehow there’s something very satisfying about giving someone something they really appreciate. Seeing that happy smile on their face and knowing that you are responsible for it, is really something very special.
I haven’t been able to get those kids off my mind, especially the little girl driving her imaginary bus with her two friends pretending to be passengers. As I walked away she shouted “Merry Christmas” with a big smile on her face. It took all my might to stop from crying and hugging tightly!
But with that smile, she reminded me of the true spirit of Christmas – compassion, the joy of giving and fellowship with family. Gifts are merely a physical representation of those feelings, when you can afford them.
So on Thursday night or Friday morning, if you don’t get the gift you really really wanted, remember that it would have broken, disappeared or lost its appeal to you anyway. However, your compassion will have made a lasting impression on someone, because people don’t remember what you do, but rather how you make them feel. And warm feelings and great memories last forever! – Bobby Brown
“Published in the Daily Voice on Tuesday 22 December 2015.”