Christmas has always been a time when we should remember others to me. Indeed, the very act of gift-giving is a way of caring for others, although I'm sure not many think back to the gifts brought by the wisemen as the origin of Christmas gift-giving today. We're generous with our own children of course, but at Christmas I try to find other ways to give.
My favourite Christmas charity is World Vision. As well as having a reputation for spending a very high percentage of donations directly on the people they are trying to support, they have developed a unique catalogue of Christmas gifts that appeals to me. You can give a wide range of things, from soccer balls to schoolbooks, from chickens to medical supplies.
It's those last things that appeal to me, so this year we are giving a cow to our children, and a goat and chickens to our grandchildren. They won't ever see them of course; the gifts will go to a family in Africa for whom it will make a big difference. It's also a way of reminding our children of the importance of charity, and perhaps getting them into the spirit of giving too. We're lucky to be able to afford it ourselves at this stage of life.
I also always give to the Salvation Army here at home. I miss the jingling bells of their Santas in the mall this year, but I'll mail a gift in. I believe they do good work, quietly and reliably, in our communities. There are several other local charities we support, especially the foodbank here in Meaford.
Finally we give to our church. It's not that we're terribly religious, although I would describe myself as spiritual. But we enjoy going to church once a week, both as a way to mark the week, and as a way to getting out in the community. And it won't be able to keep the lights on, or pay our minister, unless we help out.
In fact, I think a lot of churches will end up dissolving over the next two decades, and a very important force for good in our communities will be gone. You only have to look around at the sea of white hair, and the almost complete lack of children to realize that this is inevitable. In the meantime we'll do our best to keep it going.