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By Kartik Bajoria
It is Christmas time. Let us examine a few simple facts. First, that the true Christmas spirit and essential meaning of the day is to share joy.
The joy of giving is most 'karmic' when done anonymously, without calling attention to oneself through plaques, platitudes, claims or announcements.
In India, it is estimated that nearly 22 per cent of the population still lives well below the poverty line, with no means to an end, no regular food at the table. Even more disturbing is a study that reveals that nearly 40 of every 1000 babies born in India die before they can turn five years.
Secret Santa to those who need it
This shocking and inextricable mix of poverty and mortality is reason enough for us, this Christmas, to be the secret Santas, the purveyors of joy and holiday cheer to these children, who could deservedly use a shot of positivity and brightness in their otherwise bleak existence.
Perhaps then, in addition to participating in the mandatory office Secret Santa, this holiday season, pick a neighbourhood, partner with an NGO, identify a slum, and locate a specific colony where you can decide to be the harbinger of pleasant surprise.
Include your own children, volunteer and involve corporates
In fact, as parents and caregivers, this secret Santa for the less fortunate can also serve as the ideal opportunity of leading by example and demonstrating, initiating, sensitising our own, relatively highly privileged children into the spirit of giving, the importance of sharing, value of sensitivity and of affirmative action and simply doing right, doing good.
Kids these days, perhaps for little fault of their own, tend to become self-centered. Through an activity such as secret Santa, their eyes, minds and hearts would open up to a world, and a dire need, hitherto unseen to most of them. A vital lesson that we can teach our own kids, through gifting other kids, this holiday season, truly rounding off the essence of the holidays in a holistic, future-proof way. This would additionally teach our own kids the power of volunteerism and the gifts can even come through corporate charters and contributions, which will enable genuinely 'useful' gifting in the form of warm clothes, educational toys, bedding/comforters, and articles of that nature, to be gifted, rather than items that are just spare and hold no real meaning in the lives of these poor children.
Further the cause
Finally, wouldn't it be ideal if, rather than do this secret Santa as a one-off, standalone activity, we find a way of engaging and helping the less fortunate children, on a permanent, ongoing basis? How could we do that?
Get a corporate to 'adopt' a community/locality/slum/area/group. That way there will be a moral and written commitment to this activity becoming an annual feature, not a one-time enterprise.
Get a similar commitment from your children. A group of them, friends, who take a pledge to engage with, visit, perhaps spend some time teaching, playing, mentoring the less fortunate kids of a specifically identified locality. That way, there is perennial and positive engagement that not only helps people who need it but also continually shapes and builds character of our own offspring.
Lastly, it is always a great idea to broaden the scope of engagement. Rally around friends and family and bring in varied resources into the fold. A family-friend who's a doctor can do sporadic but regular visits. Similarly, someone known and close who might be a drama teacher could do pro-bono workshops. Likewise, another friend could take some guitar lessons. My point being, the more people in our social milieus we bring together and join with the cause, the greater the impact we can have on the lives of the less fortunate.
Joy multiplies manifold if it is shared. Let us take a pledge this Christmas to be that force-multiplier. And who better to target than those in true need!
(Kartik Bajoria is a writer, educator and moderator.)