What springs to mind when you hear the word Christmas?
I fondly remember my childhood: how we would all go out each year to buy a fir tree, then decorate it and the rest of the house. How my mother and I made Christmas cookies together, with my father and me craftily nibbling at the dough. How all the family came to visit on Christmas Eve, going to church, cooking and eating together.
Later on, we children would be sent upstairs, so that the presents could be placed under the tree. Even today, I can still almost sense the excitement I felt at that time. I recall exactly how we would take it in turn to tip-toe onto the landing, peer down and strain to hear Father Christmas’ deep voice or catch a glimpse of the little golden curls of the Christ child. Yes, for us children, the distribution of presents was certainly the best part of the day. The rustling of gift wrap, squeals of delight from the children, their sparkling eyes – what could possibly be better?
Since then, I have grown up, the state of my bank account at Christmas makes me strongly doubt the existence of Santa Claus, candle light and angelic choirs have given way to the harsh artificial lights of department stores and jostling crowds. Mad rush and stress – these are part and parcel of Christmas, almost as much as fir trees and Christmas cookies.
The pre-Christmas period is nevertheless my favourite time of the year by far, because every hint of Christmas scent and glittering star transports me back to my wonderful childhood.
I also love presents. And that does not only apply to the ones that I receive.
For me, it’s not about spending or the financial value, it is about fulfilling the wish of a particular person in my life. Often, it is simply devoting a little time or caring for one another.
The wish tree project with Caritas
Unfortunately, many families are unable to celebrate Christmas. They are living on the breadline, battling against serious health problems or other adverse factors. Christmas is associated with a rumbling stomach rather than anticipation, as they simply do not have the means for decorations, festive food and presents. The discrepancy between existential emergency and the expectations created for children by society and the media just makes the situation worse.
We often brush such concerns aside because we think that problems of this type only arise in far-away places – in crisis areas or war zones, for example.
However, some of these families live quite close to us – for example, in the Ludwigsburg district. They live under the same conditions as we do, they shop at the same stores at the same prices – but have only a fraction of resources available.
MANN+HUMMEL, as in previous years, has therefore organised a Christmas fund-raising campaign for employees this Advent. This year’s ‘wish tree’ project was undertaken in cooperation with Caritas. Thanks to this tremendous campaign, colleagues from MANN+HUMMEL in Ludwigsburg have been able to make a Christmas wish come true for around 150 families who have turned to the charity for advice and help.
The children’s wishes were collected by the relevant personnel at Caritas and then passed to MANN+HUMMEL on a ‘wish list’. Anyone who wanted to give a present to a child would pick a wish from this list. Our colleagues then put the wrapped presents under a Christmas tree in the central MANN+HUMMEL plant in Ludwigsburg.
Stars made by the children themselves were hung on the tree to symbolise each gift.
Finally, on 4th December, ‘Santa’s little helpers’ here loaded up the presents and took them to Caritas. The staff there would ensure that they reached the children safely.
Christmas is not only a wonderful festival but also a fantastic occasion for us to appreciate the people who make our lives special. It is an opportunity for us to give back a little of the joy that they bring us day by day.
It is also the right time for us to realise how well we are in fact doing – and that many people are not so fortunate.
A small contribution plays a part in helping these people and making children happy.
Thanks to this campaign, the children will receive special presents – and seeing their eyes light up is a thousand times brighter than the candles on the Christmas dining table.