I live in a country with no wrapping paper, where the cool kids ride homemade wooden bikes. There was this ONE TIME that I saw Minnie Mouse wrapping paper at the “cheap-stuff-high-prices” China shop in town. That is, if you call a shimmery bedazzled Minnie Mouse floating in a sea of hot pink REAL wrapping paper.
I buy small packs of Hot Wheels and Legos in bulk when we make trips to the USA so that my kids have something to give to their little friends as birthday presents. The kids get really excited when it’s time to go “shopping” for their friends. We pull the new toys out of their hiding places and they get to shop for their buddies right there on the spot. It’s really kind of convenient, no last minute rushed trips to the mall for us… because in this case, there is no mall. There are some small shops though. Last week on our way out of town, I realized that I had forgotten my toothbrush. We pulled over at a little shop alongside the road and while I could have replaced my toothbrush with a $17 toothbrush, I chose to buy a $4 kid toothbrush as a replacement instead.
The Grinch might be pretty happy here at Christmas time. There are no Christmas carols ringing in the air. No toys except the easily broken ones that can be found at our “cheap-stuff-high-prices” China shop. Who am I kidding? Most parents here won’t be shopping anywhere this Christmas. Store bought toys really don’t go hand in hand with poverty. Instead, kids race around happy to be pushing a tire in front of them with a stick or riding a homemade wooden bike. I know you’ve heard the story before. You can recite it by heart, I’m sure. The whole, “you should be grateful because there are starving kids in Africa” bit. The thing is, you can try to ignore the facts all you want, but it’s actually true.
This is the kind of place where a belly full of rice and a homemade bike are prized posessions. The honest trutht is, it is really difficult not to be shaped as a family by the absolute lack of personal possessions around us. It has become an everyday reminder that the things that matter most are not the house or the car or the presents under the tree. Turns out it’s actually the early morning snuggles, the living-room dance parties, cooking while the kids sit on the counter chatting away, and making a difference in the lives of coffee farmers. The moments we build into this life we have are the things that matter most, no matter where you are living… don’t you think so?
Here’s hoping your Christmas is full of the kind of moments that matter most.
Merry Christmas and Happy Giving. If you are looking for an extra way to give this Christmas, we would love to tell you about our initiative to help 2,500 coffee farmers and their children build a better life for themselves. Email me for a detailed pdf at firstname.lastname@example.org or click the donate button on the Long Miles blog www.longmilescoffeeproject.com.