A few weeks ago I decided to do a very simple thing – play secret Santa to a family in need  this Christmas – my plan……   To organise, buy  and deliver everything most families take for granted over the festive season  from the turkey dinner, treats, seasonal fruit, presents for the kids, crackers, flowers etc.  I had become upset by the stories in the press and documentaries on TV about the number of families struggling to live and feed themselves and their kids.  Not only did this upset me but it made me angry to think this is happening in my country, my town, probably even my street.  So four weeks ago  I set about finding a family to support and boy has it been a journey!

My facebook friends suggested  charities, foodbanks, social services, local papers and churches.  But up to 3 days ago I was still no further forward in identifying a family, mental eh?  All the charities simply wanted my money, social services and the media would not go out on a limb and suggest anyone and the churches….

Several simply did not return my calls, one identified 2 muslim families that don’t even celebrate Christmas, nor eat turkey!  And the conversation with a church in my home town, confirmed for me everything I believe  is wrong with institutionalised religion, it went like this ‘Well Jane we have found a family.  Mum is a regular here but Dad is a non believer and has lost his job twice in the past 6 months.  They have no savings but to be honest this is because their kids want for nothing and have been terribly spoilt.  They are going away for Christmas and I know this may be a bit cheeky but they have a bit of a cashflow issue and would prefer the money,’  when I re-iterated what I wanted to do his response… ’‘Ah well if you are looking for a poor family you’d better trying the methodist church’!

Meanwhile, still no family to support.  How had such a simple, heartfelt idea become so difficult to realise?

When did charity become so depersonalised?  I have the utmost respect for the work of Shelter and The Salvation Army and the like but how has it become impossible to deliver a simple act of kindness?  I wanted this to be personal.  It is personal.  I want to know about the family so I get it right not simply collect a few tins and a turkey – they deserve more.

Anyway, I went back to my facebook friends with a plea and a local teacher from a  school over 80 miles away from where I live picked up the challenge.  By this stage I care less how far I have to travel to make this happen, I  now have my family and I am a woman on a mission so if you see me in Sainsburys today better give me a wide birth!

I wish you all a fun and happy festive season.  Thank you for sharing some of my rants this year and I look forward to more dialogue in 2013.

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