Christmas consumerism in perspective: The latest iPhone versus a sack of potatoes | ActionAid UK

Today, the Black Friday discounts send consumers into a Christmas shopping frenzy. Meanwhile, ActionAid supporter and French Yummy Mummy blogger, Muriel Demarcus, tells us how reading her sponsored child's letter reminded her that Christmas is not all about what you want, but rather what you can give.

Profile of Sureshi, 7, a sponsored child in India
Muriel's sponsored child Sureshi, 7, from India

It is that time of the year again: I need to start my Christmas shopping, and, as if by magic, mince pies are simply everywhere. My younger daughter has not gone off the Frozen buzz for the last few months, and she hinted that a Snow Glow Elsa might be the perfect present for Christmas: “Can we tell Santa please?”

As for my older daughter, she has recently started quite an aggressive campaign to make us upgrade her latest iPhone, because apparently there is something wrong with the screen of her old one – she got it less than a year ago. It just never stops. I wonder what’s next, because there is always something new that they want, and every time they are convinced that they simply can’t live without it. 

Reality check

In the middle of this consumerism frenzy, I received a letter. It was from the child we sponsor with ActionAid, in India. His name is Suresh, and he is my younger daughter’s age, which is seven. He had been asked to draw something he dreams of. Guess what? He drew a pile of potatoes. I was stunned. It was the reality check I badly needed. I asked my daughters to write a reply, and tried to explain that they should be grateful for what they had. Thanks to Suresh, the pressure was off for a little while, and I could have a short break.

Taking things for granted

Being reminded that we take what we have for granted (food, tap water, school, healthcare…) is, I believe, a good thing. I sometimes wonder what sort of education I give to my daughters. I am thinking of sending them to do some charity work at some point, with the hope that it will keep them grounded. Raising children is nothing short of a conundrum. Right now, I am spoiling them rotten, and they have a very privileged childhood without probably noticing it, because they don’t know anything else.

Having said this, why would I give them a hard time? I find the right balance impossible to strike. A happy childhood is such a strength for the future! Sponsoring a child is a way for me to try to be a better mother, and keep things in perspective.

As Muriel says, Christmas should be about giving. This year, why not give something to someone who really needs it. By sponsoring a child for yourself, or as a Christmas present for your friends or family, you can help give a child like Suresh the chance of a better future.

For more French Yummy Mummy updates follow her on Twitter @FrenchYumMummy