I have three beautiful nieces. The eldest Amiya is 9, then there’s Ayanna, age 5 and the youngest Aileen, whose 16 months. My sisters and I had very humble beginnings and I strongly believe that our drive, ambition and appreciation of our blessings is attributed to that.
My nieces are the first children from both sides of the grandparents, so it’s only inevitable they are showered with gifts. I too was guilty of spoiling them, getting them egregious gifts, despite my sister insisting that they don’t need anything. It didn’t matter to me, I wanted to get them the best gift every year.
It wasn’t until last Christmas, something really struck a chord with me. It seemed that there were nearly 100 gifts under the tree, with over 85% of them being for my nieces. They were ripping through each one so quickly that they didn’t have the chance to appreciate the current one they had unwrapped. A part of me started reminiscing about my childhood Christmas and even though Santa almost never got me the gift I asked for, I still have fond memories of Christmas. In fact, it still remains my favourite holiday of the year!
Now, don’t get me wrong. My nieces are growing up to be beautiful girls. They’re well mannered, caring and loving. But, there isn’t anything that they want, they don’t have. For us, not having what we wanted was a function of our financial situation at home, so it was easy to limit us, but how do you limit your child when you have the means?
It was right after last Christmas that I decided that I will no longer buy my nieces materialistic gifts. Instead, I will gift them memories. For their birthdays, I’ve now started doing hair salon and mani/pedi dates, so that we can spend quality time together – something that is invaluable.
This Christmas, my husband and I decided to sponsor two girls through World Vision for Amiya and Ayanna. We sponsored a 10 year old from Africa whose birthday is two days after Amiya’s and a 4 year old whose birthday is the same day as Ayanna’s. I wanted to find two girls, similar in age who shared something special with them, so they’d be able to relate, but at the same time, realize how different life is for others.
In her letter to Santa, Ayanna asked for super powers, so we gifted her the gift of super powers to help someone in need – which is what super heroes do.
I remember when Amiya was 4 years old, on her first trip to India, she was at first disgusted by the half naked, malnourished kids on the streets of India. I then explained to her that they have no home and no access to food and it’s not nice to say things like “ewww”. The next time we went to McDonald’s, she bought an extra happy meal, tricking us into thinking she wanted it and then gave it to a hungry kid outside. It warmed our hearts in such a deep way and we wanted to give her the opportunity to do just that for someone again, but this time, in a more impactful way.
I’m happy, thankful and most of all blessed that my husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to giveback in such a way. I truly hope that my nieces take this experience in stride and write to them and learn about life outside our beautiful country we are blessed to call home. This is my #beautygiveback story.