I witnessed something brutal today. Today, I watched a kid realise the truth about Santa. With a class of 10 year olds things can get a bit awkward when you start talking about Christmas, some know the truth, some aren’t sure and some believe a fat guy has enough energy to become a glorified postman.
The teacher, a woman with actual teaching qualifications and experience, handled the situation like a true pro. “Everyone can believe what they want. Now…” and she moved on but amongst the heckles from classmates eager to show that they were savvy to the whole charade, I watched the truth about Santa sink in for one kid. He’s the biggest kid in this class, not a fatty (as the French rarely come in large sizes) but tough looking for a 10 year old, his eyes fell to the floor, his grip loosened around his pen and the colour drained ever so slightly from his face.
So, what does Christmas mean now? After the fairy-tale has ended and all that’s left is the shell of a holiday, which was once full of so much magic.
When I asked the kids in class what came to mind when they thought about Christmas, the first answer was “presents” despite the economic crisis and slowing retail sales. One bubble had already been burst, I wasn’t about to rain on her parade too.
Another kid said “Christmas cards”. My mum is still pretty keen on this tradition but in all honesty I have very few uses for a 4”x6” piece of card with a picture of a puppy in a Santa hat on it, “To Claire, Merry Christmas, Love…” is not riveting reading and too many is quite simply a fire hazard.
For me Christmas is about food, family and getting smashed but for at least one person, Christmas values have changed for the better this year. At 25 he’s over the disappointment of learning the truth about Santa and now Kevin, a company director from Cumbernauld, has decided to turn all his Boots gift sets and day-of-the-week socks into donations to The John John Trust.
The John John Trust is a charity set up in memory of John McGladrigan, who was a volunteer with Lasallian Developing World Projects in Kenya in 2003, then Ghana in 2004. The day before John was supposed to return home to Scotland he was swept out to sea. He died on August 9th, 2004. Before John died, he had promised to quit smoking and send the money he saved to them to help pay for their education. The charity was set up so this could be kept alive.
Kevin estimates that in previous years he’s spent about £1600 on “boxes with shampoo in them” and instead will spend a guilt free Christmas this year knowing that his money will be spent honouring a friend’s promise by helping The John John Trust provide school fees in Ghana and now Africa too.
As if this wasn’t enough Kev is also accepting donations to the same charity as Christmas presents from his friends and family and has told them “a donation would be much more appreciated.”
Once you know the truth about Santa, the magic doesn’t just disappear. When you realise the materialistic nonsense that Christmas really is, we can reinvest that magic into something more valuable, people who aren’t so lucky, charities that would never survive without your donations. Sorry for going all Children In Need on you there, but it’s true. Help a charity this Christmas.
If you think Kevin is doing the right thing this Christmas but are still slightly too selfish to do the same, you can in its place give Kev a Christmas gift yourself at http://www.justgiving.com/kevin-bowie and help keep John’s promise.
If you would like to know more about The John John Trust and read about John and the amazing work the charity founded in his name does go to http://www.thejohnjohntrust.org.uk
By Claire Alexandervar d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’);