Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator for CAFOD in Hallam, wonders if he should be watching more TV.
So which is your favourite Christmas ad so far? Even if, like me, you don’t watch a lot of telly, you’ll have found it hard to completely avoid all the excitement; this morning a national newspaper’s website is listing eleven so far with at least two more to come!
We know it’s all about retailers attempts to cash in on Christmas, something which many of us religious types are not entirely comfortable with. But it is, perhaps, hard to blame them when we’re all gearing up to spend hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to make this Christmas the best we’ve ever had.
There is, of course, another way: a Christmas focused on the coming of Christ and his kingdom of justice and peace. That’s not to say there’s no room for Paddington, Moz and the rest of them, just that they’re not quite as important as some people would like to make out.
The world is full of difficult questions when we look at our culture through the eyes of faith. Here’s one I wrestle with every year: how can I avoid the rampant commercialism whilst still making sure my kids have a wonderful time? In spite of my best efforts, as far as they’re concerned, Christmas means presents, so not buying any isn’t really an option. However, buying fewer and more thoughtful ones is.
That’s why I love CAFOD World Gifts. A goat, given on their behalf to someone in Africa, is not going to be their most popular present of the year but it will make them laugh and, hopefully, think for a moment about how lucky they are. It will also mean that a poor family will be provided with up to 12 pints of milk a week and free fertiliser to help them grow crops!
Goats are definitely a family favourite (and it’s one of the most popular with CAFOD supporters too) but every year there are some new ones to choose from. This year is no different: how about a solar lamp to allow children to study at night? Or the gift of play to help children deal with gang violence? And perhaps most intriguingly, you can buy a child a birth certificate which will open a world of opportunity they may not otherwise have.
Each gift is full of Christmas sparkle, though we like to think it’s a sparkle of a deeper and more enduring kind that what others are offering. And whilst we don’t have a fancy TV advert, if you tell all your friends, we won’t need one!