I still remember when I bought my first Caring Christmas Tree many years ago and the excitement of picking it up from the collection point at Edinburgh’s Cameron Toll. The cheery volunteers, all wrapped up warmly against the cold, were so helpful and I found my perfect tree in the first one I looked at on that bright and sunny Saturday morning.
How great did it feel to have a beautifully decorated tree in your home and know that you’ve given someone a hot meal and a bed for the night at the same time. Isn’t caring and sharing the festive joy and love with others what Christmas is all about?
I told everyone about it and the next year wrote a piece for our church newsletter to get more people to order their Caring Christmas Trees and so help Bethany’s work. And I continued ordering my own tree from the website each year…
… until my Christmases changed.
I had moved into a small flat, I now went abroad before Christmas and over New Year to spend the holidays with my parents, I was so busy in the weeks before Christmas that I didn’t have any time to enjoy my own tree anyway. So I stopped ordering one.
But I kept thinking back to those lovely volunteers handing out the trees. I could at least do that! But you know how it is – you’re too busy, you can’t decide which slot would be convenient, and then you’ve left it too late to register. Well, maybe next year.
So, last year, I did it! I signed up to help distribute trees at Ocean Terminal. And I had such a fun time! It was full-on, non-stop and quite physical. Lugging 7ft trees around to show to customers and nearly breaking the netting funnel trying to squeeze some particularly chunky 8-footers through with four people is a great workout.
Who’d have thought it, this year it’s all change again – I started working for Bethany and am witnessing the hard work that goes into organising Caring Christmas Trees. And of course I have a much better understanding of just how much the tree sales are helping to fund our vital services to fight homelessness.
I still don’t have space for a proper Christmas tree in my flat but I’ll be back handing out those trees. Whether you’re a customer or a fellow volunteer, I’ll see you there.