Getting in the Christmas Spirit with Operation Christmas Child

There is nothing I love better in this world than spoiling my little girls. Whether it’s buying them something they’ve wanted or showing them a new experience, I absolutely love to watch their little faces light up with excitement.

Christmas is, obviously, an ideal time for this. I probably spend far more than is necessary on days out, visits to Santa, advent calendars and, of course, Christmas presents. It’s just once I get started it’s hard to stop.

I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that they are very lucky little girls, and just because they want something doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have it. I also have to try to remind them that they have more than any child could possibly need and that some children aren’t quite so lucky.

Every year I say I’m going to do some sort of charitable event at Christmas, so that myself and the girls can take a moment to reflect on everything we take for granted that other people would love to have.   This year I actually managed to turn my words into actions.

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I decided to participate in Operation Christmas Child, where you pack a shoebox with toys, gifts and general hygiene items which are then sent to a child somewhere in the world. There are many schemes like this one. I’m not entirely sure why I chose this one – it was just the one that came up first on Google.

Miss Mess and I chose a variety of items to create a box for another little girl just like her. The items were mainly from Poundland as I needed to try and keep the price down, but I was really happy with the selection of goodies we chose.

We picked a few basic necessities, such as toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and a drinks cup. Our “Special” items included a fairy doll and a toy pony – things I knew my girls would love. We also included colouring books and crayons and other little trinkets. On the website it had said there was a chance the box might go to refugee children, so I also added warm gloves and a hat in case the child found themselves in need of them.  For our final item, I asked Miss Mess to choose one of her many, many teddies to include in the box.  That way it would feel like we were sending something personal and meaningful.

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Packing the box was a very strange experience. On one hand, it was incredibly uplifting, to do something special for another person we’ve never met and to teach Miss Mess about the true value of things. On the other hand I found it deeply upsetting to think that somewhere out there is a little girl, just like my own, who has possibly never had a doll, or a colouring book, or even a toothbrush. When I think of that, this tiny gesture seems so small and pathetic. I wish I could do so much more.

Still, I hope that little girl, wherever she is, will open her present at Christmas and know that somebody, somewhere, cares. That we hope, in the smallest way possible, that we gave her a little happiness and made things better for a short while.

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As I paid online, our box can be tracked and we will eventually be told where it ended up. I will certainly be doing this again next year, and if I plan better might even try to make a number of boxes so even more children can receive something special.

For me, I’m going to try very hard this Christmas to be grateful for everything I already have. I shall remember that it doesn’t matter if Miss Mess doesn’t get every single item on her wishlist, or if the Christmas pudding isn’t perfect. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to worry if my girls will be warm or safe of well-fed this Christmas.

I really don’t need any more than that.

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