The Spirit of Christmas

A few weeks ago while at my son’s foundation phase end of year party I received a cryptic BBM from my cousin “please, any chance you can make a Santa’s Shoebox for me today?”

She explained to me that someone has let her down. After chatting to her for a while it transpired that she’s been planning a surprise Christmas party for 35 disadvantaged children from Phillippi Farm. Everything has been planned, she donated 6 Santa’s Shoeboxes herself, and with the help of family and friends she managed to get all the other boxes donated.

I was gobsmacked! I could not believe she’s been planning such a big surprise for so many disadvantaged children.

Of course I said yes and hurried to the shops to get everything sorted. Initially my son wasn’t too enthusiastic about us making “another” Santa’s Shoebox (afraid that we will need to use his bicycle money). I explained to him that everyone will have a shoebox except for this one little boy, I asked him to imagine what it would be like if he went to a special party and everyone got a gift except for him. He said he would feel very sad and agreed that it’s the right thing to do.

We bought pj’s, a toy, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, sweets, educational things and a facecloth. We wrapped the gift later that night. We used one of my son’s drawings as creative décor for the box and secured the lid with light blue swimming goggles (something extra for the little boy).

The next day my cousin arrived to collect the gift and invited us to join her at Fish Hoek Pre-Primary for the special surprise party. She children were being transported to the school with the help of the Pastor who works in this specific community on the Farm.

We arrived at the school at 10:30, to find her classroom transformed into a magical festive scene. Tinsel hung from the gazebo, tables were set with handmade party packs, a Christmas tree with many gifts and Santa, waiting “behind” the scenes…

The children; some playing outside on the massive jungle gym, riding scooters and just having a blast, whilst others sat inside, not quite sure what to make of it all. Too overwhelmed by the gesture to truly take it all in.

Looking at these children, some of their clothes torn, broken shoes and the way the bigger kids looked out for the smaller kids (ages ranged from 2 – 16 years). Each one with a big shy smile on their face with hints of hardship lingering behind sparkling brown eyes…

Whilst deep in thought, wondering about the lives these children live; Santa sneaked in through the side door and the kids went ballistic! Some started to jump up and down while others chanted “Father Christmas” “Vader Christmas”! Santa with a big smile on his face, “Ho Ho Ho” hugging some children, shaking some hands as all the kids started to descend on him as he entered the room.

Santa handed each gift to each child individually. Wishing each child a merry Christmas with a hug and well wishes for the new year.

My son watched as “our boy, Bradwin” came up to collect his gift. This very small 5 year old, a boy who knows suffering and poverty…sitting on Santa’s lap, staring at his big Santa’s Shoebox, his awe and excitement evident from his huge smile! A moment that I cherish with my son, the joy of bringing happiness and kindness into this small boy’s world.

Bradwin quietly took his gift and sat back on the carpet, his face, his smile, brighter than the lights and tinsel surrounding the room. Nothing can compare to the infinite joy he had on his face. For a brief moment, those hints of hardship no longer lingered in those sparkly brown eyes.

Later, after the kids had their lunch and played outside it was time to take them on a tour of the wetlands. However, the minute they came back into the classroom the temptation of their gifts were too big to ignore! The shrieks of disbelief as they opened their boxes. I could not help but wonder if any of them ever received a gift so beautifully wrapped just for them.

We all stood and watched, our hearts overwhelmed with just how fortunate we are. My cousin, emotional and so grateful to have received such support from her family and friends. She burst into tears when one of the girls handed over a bunch of flowers as a thank you for all her efforts. For making their Christmas a special one.

After the children left, we felt blessed and inspired. Blessed for the opportunity to participate in such a kind and loving gesture. Inspired by this young lady who has blossomed to not just be the amazing teacher that she is, but also for her generous spirit and her love for children and the will to make a difference in the lives of ohers.

Elraine Fredericks, well done! Your act of kindness will have a lasting impact on the lives of these children. They will forever embrace the memory of this special day in the years to come.

The smallest act of kindness can change the world! Remember Christmas Spirit… the other 364 days of the year.