Moved to tears by the story of a boy, a chopping board and a tablet ...

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Dear Santa…

My Facebook page is often inundated with pearls of wisdom from well-meaning friends sharing witty soundbites from self-help gurus or philosophical one liners from movies.

Usually they just get ignored. This week however, amongst all the Christmas related cartoons, adverts and e-cards one of my friends shared this: “It is not what is under the Christmas tree… it is who is around it that counts”, accompanied by the obligatory cute carol singing cartoon.

Next up was a link to a video clip entitled “This is a real tear jerker! What a lovely lad” with a video showing a young child overcome with gratitude on opening a present from his parents. It was, indeed, a tear jerker -the 7 or 8 year old child first opened a present containing a kitchen chopping board, but yet sincerely thanks his mum and says he can’t wait to try it out and cut some food on it.

Then, he is given a second present to open and discovers that his parents have actually managed to get him a tablet. He immediately dissolves into tears of gratitude and profuse, genuine thanks.

It may well be that I’m the victim of a clever viral marketing campaign and the child is a genius actor able to turn on the tears but, whatever the motive, I’m sure all parents would wish their children to be as aware of the cost of Christmas gifts as this child obviously was (and act accordingly!). However, this rarely seems to be the case.

So with such an emphasis on the commercial side of Christmas, it’s increasingly hard to help our children appreciate the value of what’s under the tree.

This is why at Eureka! we’re proud to support the JCI Secret Santa appeal which we’re running alongside visits to Santa in his grotto and watching Snow Day, our festive interactive show. The Secret Santa appeal is a great opportunity to start conversations about the real value of gifts and to encourage sharing and empathy. Visitors can collect a tag from the E! tree which has a name and age of a child. Buy a present for that child, spending as little or as much as you’d like, and return the gift to the tree to be distributed to children that might not otherwise receive presents this Christmas.

Back at home, I’ve already involved our five year old in the compilation of two shoeboxes of gifts for Operation Christmas Child. It gave us an opportunity to talk about why these children may not get any other presents, the value of the items in the box, and the importance of giving presents as well as the excitement of receiving them. It doesn’t mean he’s taken anything off his own list, but I hope that at least he’ll be grateful for the things that he does get, plus it was a fun afternoon choosing and packing the boxes.

And if all else fails, I’ll wrap up our chopping board…

lMichelle Emerson is Eureka! Director of Marketing and Development