Friday, December 18, 2015

How two Christmas traditions were born ...

How traditions are born

It was Christmas, 1984, and I had no money for anything; not even for a Xmas present for my two children or a birthday present for my son who was born on Xmas day.   I did not have anyone to ask to help me (although I probably would not have done so because at the time I was too proud to ask), and I had run out of all options to fix this catastrophic Christmas day.   I was extremely stressed and very unhappy.  What could I give to my two children to make it a festive day? 
I had to do something, so I told the children that from that Christmas and for every Christmas forever, we would have a new tradition in our home.  Each of us would write a letter to one another talking about what the other had done for them during the year that they appreciated; and how much we loved one another.  The only rule was that the envelope had to be home-made.  Our letters were ready for the next day.

On the 24th, I walked listlessly to the post-box attached to the front gate.   I could see that there was some junk mail pushed into it as well as the free newspaper that was delivered once a week.  I took everything out of the post-box and was sorting through it while walking back to the house.  In the heap of junk mail was an envelope addressed to me. 
Opening the envelope, I found a bank cheque written out to me for R100.00.  There was no note; just that cheque.  One hundred rand was enough to buy food and presents for my children and still have change, unlike today.   I went to the bank to find out if there had been some mistake, but “No”, they said, “that is from an anonymous donor and we cannot tell you the person’s name”.
We had the best Christmas ever – right at the last moment, the afternoon of the 24th December, I was blessed with a gift from some kind stranger.

From 1984, two traditions were born in our family.  We still give no presents to one another at Christmas.  We write one another a letter.  It takes a lot of effort, thinking and time to do those letters.  And the other tradition is that we find a family who are in need and anonymously donate what we can to make another family feel the spirit of the season of goodwill.