Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Love in a box

Christmas is upon us, a time of year I struggle with but put on a brave face for the kids. The season starts with some charity, before the onslaught of greed, excess and plain over-eating. Every year a friend of mine encourages us to fill a shoe box with presents for children less fortunate than ours. The local project is called 'Love in a box' - lorries take these shoe boxes from Sussex to countries all over Eastern Europe, there are emotional videos of the kids opening their presents on their website. It feels like a more personal sense of giving, rather than a tenner via the internet.

Every year we have the same arguments. Two shoe boxes, which my two children are encouraged to fill with some of their toys to give to poorer children who may not even have a mummy or a daddy. One shoe box is over flowing with gifts, from A - and the other is, well, empty.

"C'mon P, what about this teddy - imagine a little girl opening this on Christmas morning, don't you think she would like this teddy?" I cajole.

"No, it's MIIIIIIIINE!" she wails, throwing herself and the teddy on her bed dramatically.

"What about this little bag? Or this dolly? Or a nice necklace?" I ask getting a little angry.

"NOooooooooooooooooo!" the sobs are loud and real, her cheeks streaked with tears.

We revisit the computer and show her all the children who have nothing and what this gift would mean to them. She doesn't get it. She's five. So I leave it at that. And when they are at school I do a mine sweep of their rooms and get a shoe box of goodies that any little girl would be happy to receive. I top the box up with some pens, sweets, hair accessories and stickers.

When they return from school they open the boxes, which I told them not to, and screamed and cried at the contents. The stuffed horse didn't make it to Romania, nor the plastic fairy, but we came to an agreement on the others.

Love in a box? Reluctance in a box is perhaps a little more accurate.

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