Lindy Jordaan

A few years ago I read the most beautiful story about a white envelope.

Mike hated the whole idea of buying Christmas gifts. By that time he had received enough socks as gifts and had not worn the previous years’ ties for a long time. His wife knew that her husband had a passion for wrestling and she noticed that a team that her son wrestled against was good, but did not have the necessary equipment. She went to buy the necessary equipment for the team and left an envelope with the explanation about what she had done, under the Christmas tree for Mike. Long after Mike’s death, his wife and children continued with the tradition of leaving a white envelope for him under the tree with a message of something good which they had done on his behalf.

It took me a few years to implement this tradition in our house, but last year my husband and I did it for each other. It was wonderful not to search for the perfect gift for each other, but to rather search for an opportunity to help someone else. To me it feels much closer to the true meaning of Christmas.

However, our children are not on the same page yet and their wish lists are usually reasonably long and every item listed usually also has a reasonable price attached to it.

The problem which many of us, however, sit with beyond 2020, is that finances have become a fairly great challenge. Just to make wish lists become a reality, is, however, no longer an option.

I can probably make quite a few suggestions about what one can make for each other if you do not have money, but to me it feels as if every one’s wish list differs according to gender and age. I quickly Googled and when one types in “what to give for Christmas when you are broke”, 118 000 000 web page suggestions come up. Every web page has at least 10 suggestions. There is thus no shortage of ideas.

My suggestion is to have a family meeting. Explain to the children that there is little money for luxuries this Christmas and that it is the ideal opportunity to focus on the true meaning of Christmas again. It is a good plan to write out Christmas Vouchers for each other. If you ask the other person what he would really like you to do for him, everyone will be able to think of something.

Maybe Dad does not feel like taking out the trash every week; your little brother will give the world if he can maybe give one of his chores to you. For myself, it would be the greatest gift if I could maybe get a foot massage in my own bed at night after a warm bath, for 10 minutes every two weeks for two months. (Hope my children read this!).

The gift vouchers are a good idea for your own family, but it is also a good idea to focus on other people when you are short of money. My friend, whose husband has been unemployed for a few years, bakes the most delicious cookies. It is their only income. One Christmas my mother had the cookies packed in small packets of 5 cookies each. She and my sister’s two children went to distribute the packets to every resident in her nursing home. The gratitude on a lady’s face when she opens the door to see the two pretty little ones and then still get cookies as well, is really like the advertisement says; “priceless”.  On top of that, the gifts resulted in lots of people ordering pastries from my friend on a regular basis. It is therefore a gift that that keeps on giving and giving. To bake the cookies as a family, presents another lovely opportunity for a do-it–together activity.

I recently read about a man who had to take a 40-minute train ride to one of his three jobs every morning. He and his family lost their house, in which they had lived for 17 years, as well as their two cars. He used the 40 minutes to write a story to his children every morning. The story would be his Christmas gift to the children, because that year there was no money for wish lists. The man was William Paul Young and the book: “The Shack”. More than 20 million copies were sold by March 2017.

May you focus on other people this Christmas, become aware of the real meaning of Christmas, become creative without money and find your own “white envelope” under the tree.


41 Hospital Street, Arcadia, 0083
PO BOX 40526, Arcadia, 0007
012 325 3920
084 383 9417

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