I love Christmas. I love singing Carols. What I do NOT love is cruelty to children [at any time, but especially at Christmas] But sadly there are many people who do not seem to understand about this.
There is an organisation called The Bible Lands Society, whose aim is supporting Health, Education and Community Development in the Lands of the Bible. My family have supported Bible Lands for as long as I can remember. When we got married, Bob and I chose to have our Orders Of Service printed on Bible Lands folders.
Every year, they produce a freshly designed, beautiful, full colour carol booklet, and make it available for mere pence. You probably cannot produce a cheaper equivalent yourself. And a high proportion of the money raised goes towards their work.
Here is this year's booklet.
It is edition #54. So why do I find myself, yet again, at events where people are handing out old booklets, with notes saying "Look after your sheet so we can use it again next year"???
Bible Lands request that people use their booklets for one season only.
As I see it, it is mean-spirited and quite unnecessary. The organisers of most Carol Events could easily afford £28 for a set of 200 new sheets each Christmas - and that would be of real benefit to the children in the Bible Lands - on the website, it tells me that
"Many families in the Middle East do not feel education for girls is important. Young women grow up unable to read or write, and find themselves totally powerless in later life. This often leads to exploitation and a life of misery and missed opportunities. Literacy and life skills classes cost £25.00 for six months and will change a young woman's life for ever."
Education [especially of women] is very important to me - and the realisation that it is so easy to make a difference should not go unnoticed.
I debated making origami models with my booklet so that it could not be used again [decided that would set a bad example to school children present] Then wondered about giving the organisers 14p and saying "I am keeping this year's sheet - here's the money to buy a new one next year " [yes, they do only cost 14p each] Finally I decided to put the sheet under my chair and sing the carols from memory rather than use it.
The Bible Lands Society are lovely Christian folk, who make real sacrifices themselves because they believe in what they are doing. Many of their staff are highly skilled professionals who could command huge salaries if they worked in secular employment. They are too nice to make a fuss about the Ebenezer Scrooges up and down the land using Carol sheet Edition 37 or whatever. But it must make them very sad.
So I am ranting on their behalf.
When you take down the decorations after Christmas and put them away in the loft/ vestry cupboard/ Parish Council Storeroom/ wherever, respect the Bible Lands request, please THROW AWAY those old Bethlehem Carol sheets, and get a fresh lot every year.
Now you know why, you have no excuse!!