Giving back starts with the will to help others, says Grandad Ron

Christmas is a time for families – but not just our own. Grandad Ron Banks devises a way to give back to society that allows his own family to become change makers by finding charity for others in their hearts, using a way to donate happiness as well as money to put some sparkle into the lives of others…

“Really?” Grandad Ron looked, with raised eyebrows, at the list of potential Christmas gifts for his grandchildren. “They could have saved loads of time by writing ‘expensive plastic tat’ at the top of the sheet and having done with it,” he said, shaking his head and tossing the list onto the table.

Grandma Lorna picked it up. “Well, it’s the Christmas list Ollie’s drawn up for the grandchildren. These are the things they’ve asked for,” she said.

“And I asked for a yellow Ferrari ten years ago, but it still hasn’t arrived. Look, I love Alice and Jack very much, but I’m not sure the best way of showing that is by showering them with gifts like these; things they’ll have forgotten about by New Year, or even earlier. That’s all I’m saying. They’ll be overwhelmed. And Jack’s less than a year old; he can’t tell the difference between Christmas Day and last Tuesday.”

“What was special about last Tuesday?”, Lorna wanted to know. “Anyway, now you’re being too harsh,” she said. “Being a grandparent is about making other people happy, and if the things on the list do that, we should buy something from it.”

“Well, the ‘happy’ part is fine, and I’m not going to argue with that – but being a grandparent is no different from being a parent. You don’t lose the power of thought by passing your sixtieth birthday, you know. Being a grandparent is about sharing experience and wisdom, and offering advice. I think Lizzie should write a blog about it. I might even offer to write it for her myself.”

Giving back with Christmas presents
Lorna brought him back to earth. “When you’ve finished preaching to the masses, O Wise One, Christmas is still coming, and we have to do something about presents. What do you suggest?” She’d expected him to pick up the list and select items from it, which she would then order on line, which is why she was surprised by his response.

“Whichever way you look at it, there are too many too-expensive gifts on this list,” he said, tapping it with his forefinger, “so we’re going to ignore it. Here’s what we’ll do instead…”

When he’d finished explaining his plan, Lorna had to agree he was right. He’d proposed to ask Alice to write her own list, showing things she really wanted. Then he’d suggested explaining to her that there were children whose families were too poor to buy them any presents at all, and that we should help others by sharing what we had. And then he’d suggested adding up the cost of some of the more expensive presents, and putting an equivalent sum into the children’s bank accounts.

Ron’s plan
Explaining the plan to Ollie and Lizzie later, he said: “I saw it like this. Firstly, if Alice wrote her own list, then you’d know what she really wanted, not what she’d seen advertised on television and chosen on a whim. Then you could translate her list into something achievable. For instance, if she wanted a pony, you could organise riding lessons.

“Then, if she had one present less, she probably wouldn’t notice. However, if a child in a family in difficulty had that one present, and it was the only one they had, it would mean the world to them. Making sure that child had even one present would be an effective way of giving back to society at a time of year that can be difficult for hard-pressed families. We can find a charity that reaches out to them, and offer our support.

“And finally, by putting money into the bank for the children, we’re protecting their futures by diverting money from buying things now that they don’t want, don’t need, and won’t notice, and putting it into something that will have greater value for them later on, when they do need it. You might call it the present with a future,” he said, smiling at his own joke…