Much of Christmas is about giving, both as a symbolic expression of care to those who are dear to us and as a concrete action of care to those for whom such gifts are dearly needed.
However, Christmas cards and gifts miss out on the true meaning of Christmas. It is true that they are greatly enjoyed
by the recipients but yet the end effect is generally of little benefit unless the recipient has a true need of the gift.
This idea introduces Christmas Charity Vouchers, issued by high-street banks basically as a special format cheque with seasonal decorations. The 'pay to' line reads 'dear'; and underneath the amount is a line stating 'to be paid to any registered charity of your choice'.
The reverse of the voucher has checkboxes for common charities and entry boxes for entering those who didn't make the cut this year. These are to allow the recipient to choose his or her preferred charity for the donation.
For a child to be able to give a substantial donation to a charity is a wonderful thing, an action he will remember throughout his life and something he will hopefully repeat with his own money once he has some.
It is true that an accountant would decide this is giving to charity by proxy and in some ways it is. However, I feel that just in choosing a charity the recipient participates in the true spirit of Christmas by empathising with those who are in need and making a difference.
If we were very lucky, some of the recipients might be stirred into deep thought about whether they themselves would prefer feeding the hungry, helping the sick or finding homes for stray dogs to having a Wii this Christmas.
If the vouchers took off, we could see some charitable spotlight shows shown on Boxing Day so that those who've received a voucher can watch, learn and choose. A bit of humble thought about those less fortunate than ourselves certainly wouldn't hurt on the day after Christmas Day's excesses.