share the dignity this Christmas
Over the past week I’ve spent a considerable amount of time preparing for Christmas; organising weekends around dance and drama rehearsals, making lists of things to buy and chatting to the Grandmothers about ham and turkey and rice salad and pavlova.
This time of year is busy and exhausting and expensive, but I remind myself that it’s an opportunity to celebrate community and connection – it’s something I get to do, not something I have to do. And while we, as a family, choose to buy mindfully and minimally, we recognise that we are blessed with abundance. We are so privileged.
But in all honesty, how can I begin to dread the busyness and exhaustion of the festive season if there is a large segment of the community who dread Christmas because it highlights their challenges and loneliness?
Last year I was introduced to the life-changing work of Share the Dignity – an Australian charity that supports homeless women and victims of domestic violence. The charity works on the ground to bring dignity to these women through the distribution of sanitary items.
At Christmas they run the #itsinthebag campaign and this year I encourage you to take part. Basically you fill a handbag with everyday luxuries – personal care products, magazines, lip balm, mints, a hairbrush – and drop it to your local collection point. Each bag that’s received is distributed to police stations (often the first port of call for women fleeing domestic violence situations), shelters and charity organisations.
“It’s not the bag or even the contents, it’s knowing that someone thinks I am worthy.”
This year, like last, I’m creating a bag for a teen girl after reading this on the Share the Dignity website: “Having worked for a long time in the child protection and foster care space, it is sadly always, without fail, the older kids that miss out more than any other age group at Christmas. Despite there being a massive Christmas gift appeal for children in care every year, and some very generous donations, there are very few presents donated for teenagers. Let’s face it, teenagers are generally harder to buy for, but no less amazing and worthy. I know so many young teenage girls in care who would just be so thrilled to receive an awesome ‘it’s in the bag’ gift for Christmas this year. It’s something fun, young and useful all in one and then when they open it…..it’s full of cool stuff.”
I picked up a brand new handbag at the second-hand markets this morning and this week I’ll fill it with beautiful products for a teen girl in my community. I’ll buy some Bonds undies and socks, shimmery moisturiser from Lush (because every teen girl loves Lush!), shampoo + conditioner, tampons and pads, nail polish, a notepad + pens, lip balm, mascara, sunscreen, a perfume for sweet dreams, a hairbrush + hair ties, body wash and moisturiser.
And together the kids and I will pack it up, write on a card and tie a yellow ribbon around the bag’s handles to differentiate it as a teen bag. And on Christmas Day I’ll make sure we talk about the teen girl who received the bag and we’ll send her love and cheer and many, many, many good wishes for health, happiness and abundance.
*Collection Point locations will be announced here on November 18th