Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Markets’

Jo 17There I was, seated behind my book table at a school Christmas Market on a hot, Sydney summer day. The first mad scramble of students was over and the bell had rung. Around me, all sorts of interesting wares were on display—handmade Christmas cards and decorations, clothing, jewellery, festive food, plants and other miscellaneous items. The idea was that teachers would bring their students, class by class, to buy Christmas gifts for parents and other family members.

Soon the youngest students began arriving, many clutching tightly to little plastic bags containing their precious five dollars to spend. It was touching to see how teachers or older ‘buddy’ students tried to help them pick out something they could buy. Some found what they wanted by themselves, but most needed a lot of help and guidance. After all, it is hard to understand why that money in your little bag isn’t enough for just anything you like! My books were out of the question for them, but I tried my best to point them to some greeting cards I sell for a friend and to the one and two dollar items on the table next to mine.

When the older primary students turned up, however, it was a different matter.  Some perused the tables slowly, trying to work out what they could buy with their limited funds, while others headed straight for what appealed to them. But that definitely did not include one young boy I noticed. I watched as he circled all the tables at a great rate—once, twice, then yet again, each time getting faster and faster. Then he suddenly stood still and looked totally lost and confused, as if it was all too much for him. His face was red—and he seemed close to tears.

Just then, one of the organisers came by and I mentioned this boy to her.

‘Which one is he?’ she asked straight away. ‘Some can find it all a bit overwhelming.’

I tried to point him out, but it was difficult, in the midst of so many children. Then I lost sight of him altogether.

Later, I wondered where he went. Did that organiser find him? Or did he give up and not spend anything? Did he leave happy? Or was he still upset?

As Christmas comes closer, I am reminded of that young boy whenever I am out shopping and take a moment to look at those around me, as they head through the centre with bulging bags and trolleys. Some seem relaxed and cheerful—but many appear decidedly harassed and overwhelmed, just like the boy at the Christmas Market. And soon I find myself remembering some words from Matthew’s Gospel about all those people who came to receive healing and teaching from Jesus in the places he visited:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

This Christmas season, let’s watch out for those around us who seem harassed and helpless, for whatever reason. Let’s do what we can to walk alongside them and ease their burdens. By our kind words and helpful actions, let’s do our best to point them to Jesus, the true Shepherd, who alone can bring that deep peace we all long for in our hearts.

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Jo 23I suspect I am something of a loner, which can be a definite strength for an author. After all, no one else is going to write that book for me—and that, of course, involves many hours at my computer, lost in my own little world.

Yet I know I also need others around me in this writing journey of mine. Where would I be without my manuscript readers or publisher or editor? Where would I be without those who invite me to speak somewhere? Where would I be without my faithful team of women who pray for me—or my husband who looks after my finances and my computer? Without such support, I would be floundering.

Last week, another author and I were invited to take part in a school Christmas Market where all sorts of interesting gifts were on display for the children, staff, parents and grandparents to buy. In no time at all, I began to see how helpful it was to have my author friend alongside me. Our novels targeted different age groups and, while we had both written a memoir, their focus was quite different. As well, my friend had some colouring books, cards and bookmarks for sale. I had cards too from Turkey, but offered them for sale only in packs of five. What fun it was to be able to help prospective customers find what they wanted!

‘Do you have any books for early teens?’

‘Not really—but my friend does. Perhaps you could check out her books?’

‘Do you have any single cards?’

‘No—but my friend has some here. You can even colour hers in before you send them, if you want.’

My author friend ran out of change at one stage and I was able to help her out. In return, she offered me use of her paper bags and also explained about her Paypal phone app. As well, we talked about all sorts of things, an experience we both enjoyed and found encouraging.

Then, when it was time for the kindergarten children to select their gifts, I noticed some older student ‘buddies’ helping them. One tall boy carefully held the hands of two very little boys as they wandered around.

‘Would you like these cards—or perhaps a bookmark? Yes? Good. Now, that will cost three dollars (holding up three fingers), so you each have two dollars left.’

And how could I not notice the lovely, colourful skirts, aprons and bags on a nearby table? They were being sold on behalf of a community organisation in Uganda, providing the women with a viable cottage industry. There were other stalls too where any profits made were to be given to groups such as World Vision or TEAR Fund. Even the small cost each stallholder paid to be at this Christmas Market was donated to The Voice of the Martyrs organisation.

So much support for others on so many levels and in so many different ways, but all highlighting the truth of those words written so long ago:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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