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You know what it is? It is when people who have very little to give, give of themselves. It not a gift or present in the dollars sense but it is the more meaningful contribution that people make when they volunteer, or donate their time, or help out!

I have been the recipient of a lot of this over time. I have also been a giver. I have felt privileged and blessed in both circumstances,

On the Christmas Tree Festival I have been a witness to the generosity of spirit of many people whose contribution flies at times, in the face of overt commercialism and outright selfishness. Fortunately for me, just about everybody involved in the event is in the former not the latter. I am extremely grateful for their generosity of spirit and am indebted to them for being part of getting something great off the ground.

I also thank the people who on a nightly basis tell me and the staff how great the trees are and how they feel good about the simple sense of giving. As the Adelaide Christmas Tree Festival grows these are the people that I want to attract to the festival; people who innately are givers and receivers of the generosity of spirit. Hopefully when others come the vibe will rub off and not only will donations rise but also the interest in doing something with your time that demonstrates your own generosity of spirit.

The other night we had a family come to the Christmas Tree Festival quite late so there were very few people in the park at the time. It was also pretty cold as the temperature had dropped and the wind picked up.

As I approached I could see that they were discussing something relating to the trees so I interrupted and asked if I could help.

“Why is the tree in the middle of the park not decorated? We read the sign but we are not too sure what it means?”

I had been waiting to get this question and so started my response with a “Well………” and then continued “the tree being blank could mean a lot of different things to different people, like a good poem it takes on the meaning that is most relevant to the reader.”

I got nods all round so I went on “You might have noticed that the charity for that tree is the Hutt St Centre, so maybe one of the intended reasons is to remind people that at Christmas time some people will – this year, go with out and have nothing.”

The conversation paused, pondering the thought that some people would go without and then grew in unanimous agreement that overt commercialism has dragged our attention away from what Christmas is all about; coming together in celebration. We also chatted about how the concept of Christmas immediately conjures concerns about presents, food, money, travel etc, etc.

Why?

If we took away all the presents, the alcohol, the ‘too much food’ and the ‘have to’ mentality, what would be left with? Togetherness. And that would be OK.

When I am together with my kids the thing that makes me happiest is when they smile. If you know the sound of a child’s uncontrolled laughter you will know instantly that it makes you smile. You might event be smiling now while your thinking about it.

So through conversation we posed the question, what is a smile worth?

And if you had nothing this Christmas but a smile what could do with it? Share it with others maybe? If you received nothing this Christmas but smiles from someone dear or close to you would that not be as good if not better than a gift? If you received a smile from a stranger would it make you feel better?

Clearly, a smile is free. It costs nothing to produce and nothing to share but I think it has a significantly greater value. Maybe in the context of Christmas and the fertile landscape of togetherness a smile could grow to be the most important and valuable thing we could share……. Freely.

And maybe the most important smile you give or receive this year might just be with someone who immediately recognises the value of that smile, because – no matter what the reason, they have very little else.

 

 

‘I don’t think I could ever say thank you enough’ is a thought that often runs through my head.

In my short time on this planet I have genuinely been blessed and have had some of the most amazing experiences imaginable….. and frankly, unimaginable. I have also been a part of many, truly great things. And all of these experiences have a common element; and it’s not me.

It’s the people who have worked with me, journeyed with me, been there, contributed, observed, laughed, cried, battled and in some cases picked me up when I fell down. There have been people there always. Not always the same people but people who have cared.

At the heart of that is my family; a constant source of support and inspiration. My parents are frankly ‘Rock Stars’. They have worked tirelessly to raise four beautiful children and still give of their time and energy freely to help each of us. I don’t think, nor do they expect, that I could ever repay them. The example that they have given myself and my siblings means that we now support each other in everything we do.

It honestly makes me wonder whether any person has ever achieved ‘solo’ greatness. There are those who may have been chosen as the figure head and deservedly are recognized as great but even Edmund Hilary had a Sherpa. I could not imagine a world where I had to do it on my own. I feel deeply for anyone who feels this.

What does this have to do with the Christmas Tree Festival?

The support for the Adelaide Christmas Tree Festival from family, friends and acquaintances in its first year has been overwhelming. The effort that has been put in to make things happen has been remarkable and I don’t think I could ever say thank you enough. It is a case of  ‘good people making great things happen’ which has been the slogan for our company since from the very beginning.

Maybe instead of thanking them with gifts or tributes I just need to shake their hand or kiss them on the cheek, look them in the eye and say Thank You and Merry Christmas. I can promise you that they will know that I mean it.

This time last year I knew I wanted my next Christmas to be different.

I had just come back to Adelaide from time overseas, and maybe due to my children being 9 months and 3 , I desperately wanted Christmas to be special.

The kind of special that I remember Christmas being as kid. The kind of Christmas where everything was big and bright and exciting. The kind of Christmas where we played lots of games, shared laughs, spent time together, ate too much and fell asleep on the couch. The kind of Christmas that…….. my parents and family made special for me….. with love and care and a little bit of creativity.

It is strange how you change the way you see things as you become an adult. Maybe that’s the definition of being an adult; you finally see the world in terms of how you make it not just how you experience it.

So what’s this got to do with the night before Christmas? Well last year on the night before Christmas I was making a bike. A little pink one with white tyres to be exact. This year I am not too sure what I will be doing. But the sensation of preparation and anticipation is very much with me now as we get into the final stages of bringing the Adelaide Christmas Tree Festival to life.

And this year Christmas is going to be special with big trees, lights, free games, inexpensive activities, food and refreshments. I am excited, nervous, tired and anxious. It feels just like the night before Christmas and on Sunday the 2nd of December the doors to my living room are open to you, to come and share it with me.

I look forward to seeing you soon. TRAVIS

 

Hello!

Very excited about the Christmas Tree Festival. I”ll be there with Jingle Bells on!

Matt.

Jingle Bells