I sometimes never know where is home when people ask me so I resort to answering “wherever I am.” But for the last three years I have been coming back to Trinidad for Christmas, the only time of year it really truly feels like home for me.
There’s a reason I look forward to it though – my family’s annual Christmas treat. For years I was busy galavanting around the world and would miss the gift giving in December but I always contributed by buying little toys wherever I was based to send home. Everyone knows I love to travel, and if I can use travel to inspire these kids who are from some of the poorest areas in Trinidad, that’s enough of a Christmas gift for me. In many cases this would be the only good toy they get for Christmas.
However in these past three years it’s been the one thing I look forward to coming home and helping Mom with – the planning, the toy shopping, the sweet goodies and noisemakers for the party bags to the wrapping and distribution. I still buy toys and treats from wherever I travel too. Some of the kids now look forward to it knowing they’ll learn about a different country.
So 2014 rolled around, I lugged back sweets and party favours from London and was ready for a couple weeks of madness as we prepared to treat 200 kids between the age of 5-12 in two schools, an orphanage and a temple.
There is no better feeling in the world than watching these kids excitedly rip open the gift paper to see what toys they’ve gotten and seeing the appreciative looks on their faces. There is no better feeling than giving without expecting something in return. There is no better feeling than hearing “I want to see the world just like you when I grow up!”
Each year the annual treat gets bigger, but for the kids we see every year, it’s a heart warming feeling to know they are encouraged to do better in school, to aim for their dreams and to know that something so small from different parts of the world inspire them to one day see the world too. Isn’t this what the spirit of gift giving at Christmas is all about?
Here are a few photos of our 2014 treat so far.