The Joy of Giving

I love the spirit of Christmas. This is one of my favourite times of the year. I love the quality family time; the big family sit-down meals around the dining room table extended especially to host the family; the family carol singing before the Christmas Eve meal; the roast turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve.; the Nativity scene set up by the nephew and nieces. I love giving gifts and I start thinking about what to give from about July! One of the most recent additions to the things I love about Christmas is Auntie Heather’s Santa Workshop.

Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of hosting a Santa Workshop for my nephew and nieces. We start planning it a couple of weeks before the event when I enquire if they have any ideas for their gifts. The event itself usually happens over two days in the first week of their Christmas vacation. The general plan is to assist them in making homemade gifts for their parents and grandparents.

In the process I get to introduce them to different crafts and to encourage their creativity. As they get older and can reach the sewing machine pedal, their projects will include machine sewn items. It pleases me to see their confidence when using the sewing machine and the pleasure they get in sewing the items on their own.

I love guiding the creative process from choosing the project, the materials to use, the method, and the development of new skills. It’s definitely a case of “pay it forward” as I remember my aunts and mother guiding my creativity, and introducing me to different techniques and skills.

After the gifts are made, they are carefully wrapped and labelled, and secreted away for Christmas day. Then there’s the anticipation of my favourite part of “Auntie Heather’s Santa Workshop”, the giving of the gifts. The pride and excitement of the children as they give their gifts to the recipients warms and fills my heart. As the children give their homemade gifts that they have so lovingly made and wrapped, I witness their delight when the gifts are so warmly received. What could be better?

The subtle lesson of Auntie Heather’s Santa Workshop is the joy of giving. I want to draw the focus away from receiving and redirect it towards giving. I hope to impart the message of the joy of giving through personal experience. December 10th, is the first day of Auntie Heather’s Santa Workshop. I don’t know who was more excited, them or me.

About Heather Allais

Heather lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She works as an Administrator in a school. Heather received her honours degree in Fine Arts and a higher diploma in Education from the University of the Witwatersrand. After teaching for 12 years, 10 of which were at Kainon School at the New Church Westville, she studied for and received her Masters in Religious Studies at the Theological School of the Bryn Athyn College. Heather worked for General Church Outreach for 4 years before returning to South Africa. Heather is an active member of The New Church Buccleuch serving on the church board holding the Outreach portfolio, leading Children’s Church, singing in the church band, serving as greeter, sound engineer and usher. Heather also serves as the Administrator of the South African Corporation of the General Church. Heather is a keen tribal belly dancer and quilter, and has recently joined the Johannesburg Symphony Choir. Quality time is set aside for her family.

3 thoughts on “The Joy of Giving

  1. Heather, that’s precious! 🙂 *Thank you* for instilling this joy of giving in your nieces and nephew. While they clearly enjoy it now, the long-term benefits are deep and far-reaching. Way to go!! ~ A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you, Heather, at this special time of year. 🙂 xx

  2. Hi Heather! How lovely. I know that Christmas has been and gone and my kids started school on Monday but I am going to remember this for the end of the year, or perhaps for birthdays. By going out and buying just anything at the last minute we seem to miss the feeling that WE are giving something special to someone who is special to us. In my life, at the moment, time is my most precious resource by far. And I know that if someone has made time to make me something, that is the gift that I keep safely in my “treasures” cupboard long after it has outlived it’s purpose or become too worn to wear. Just haven’t made the time yet to teach this to my children…will try to this year! So good to see you here!

  3. This is such a wonderful idea! What a great act of ministry – teaching children to minister, to serve. This has been on my mind a lot recently as we are planning changes to our children’s ministries here in Westville, and including ways that children can serve others, nurturing their sincere, generous spirits is a blessed challenge to have. I love the spirit behind your workshop – what a gift to their parents, this way you serve their children!

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