A new pair of boots is top of my Christmas list this year, and I genuinely ‘need’ them – my current pair were a gift two Christmases ago and now they let in rain, which is a no-no for winter in Ireland. But my heart just about broke and my perspective was well and truly re-aligned in a charity shop today, when I overheard a couple talking while they browsed through racks of scuffed second-hand shoes, most of them still bearing the distinctive, eery shape of the previous owner’s feet.
He wanted to treat her to a ‘new’ pair of charity shop shoes for Christmas, but she protested: “I can do without.”
That’s ‘need’. I want for nothing.
It’s easy to say all the right things at Christmas – that we’re fortunate to have a roof over our head, food in our fridges, money in our bank accounts – and yet still feel the tug of supposed ‘needs’ and the heart-sinking sadness that seems to lurk in the air as we’re bombarded with pressure to buy ourselves the perfect Christmas – on credit, of course.
I paid for an expensive gift with cash recently and the cashier looked at me askew when I turned down her ‘buy now, pay later’ offer and handed over a pile of £20 notes. It’s all kinds of wrong when having the money to pay for what you buy is the anomaly while easy credit is the norm.
But that’s consumerism, not Christmas. You can have next to nothing – no place to lay a baby – and still receive the gifts hidden in the Christmas story. Or you can have everything and miss the magic in the manger.
Would you do something with me to pass that magic on? Find something you don’t really need this Christmas and ‘gift’ it to your local charity shop. Make it something special, then make a wish that it will light up someone’s darkness this week as they browse for last-minute gifts or treats hidden among other people’s unwanted things.
I longed for that couple to linger long enough to find the shoes I’d impulsively tossed into my bag of charity shop donations earlier in the day, wondering who could possibly want them.
But more than that, I wished for a brand new pair of shoes for her. Ones that put a spring in her step and a lightness in her soul.