Giving Back – Kmart Wishing Tree
Over the past few years I’ve become a little… wiser I guess. Or maybe appreciative of certain things.
Given my job where I work with computers all day, there’s a massive amount of electronic waste that just gets thrown away. My old man is an Audio Engineer, and I’ve always grown up surrounded by massive audio desks, loud speakers and musical instruments. He spent a lot of time with some well known artists recording their work, John Farnham, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Elton John to name just a few.
But the thing is, my old man only recently sold the Audio mixing desk he had since I was a child. He paid around $25,000 for it when he got in back in the early 80’s and sold it for $1500 last year. Sure it’s depreciated a lot. But honestly he’s barely ever had a problem with it. Other than requiring 6 people to move it. But anyway, to get back on track, there’s a lot of stuff my Dad has that’s still working 40-50 years on, and I’ve started to appreciate vintage products that last. Especially the audio gear.
You might be wondering where I’m going with this, well growing up my parents got divorced when I was 5 or 6. My Dad and I left in the car with nothing but some clothes on our way to somewhere else to start a new life. I remember at that age Dad getting a flat tyre in the middle of a highway, and having to stay in the car by myself while he went and got a lift and had it fixed until he could get back to the car. I’ve always been pretty self sufficient in that order and probably why I prefer to do things alone.
Since my parents divorce, we never had a lot around Xmas time. Dad couldn’t afford anything so it was usually just myself, him and my grandmother on Xmas time. It was a little awkward but I came not to expect gifts on Xmas and to be thankful for the family I had then. Because when I looked back on what family Xmas was like, both grandparents from both sides of the family, cousins, uncles, aunts, parents, brothers, sisters, friends. It was a rather large affair.
But it can all come crashing down very quickly and then it’s all gone. I find kids in the current world are very greedy and don’t know what they have, and they wouldn’t know until it’s gone. I see on gaming forums I go to where teenagers ask what each other got over Xmas from their parents and relatives. “I only got… and ipad, clothes, laptop, $200 from my grandparents”, and I just wonder if they know what it’s like to have nothing at all.
My Dad and I went from living in a car for a day or 2, to living with some friends, to a caravan, to a house eventually.
After a long chat about life with my Dad a few weeks ago, it only confirmed my thoughts on what my life had been like. It was hard, and hard work getting to where I am now, and that I’ve only got the determination to do better. I remember clear as day my brother, of whom I haven’t spoken to for 15 years, saying to me “You will never survive out in the real world” when I was in high school. Now I look at what I’ve been through and accomplished, and I can only be proud of where I am.
I’m at a stage where I’m sitting comfortably with my life. I remember when we first got our rental house and we had nothing, we got a fair bit of furniture from Salvation Army and St Vincent de Pauls. Beds, couch, kitchen utensils, the lot.
Now I own everything in the house which I’ve gotten to choose myself.
This year I thought I’d give back, even if it was a small gesture. So while out doing my Xmas shopping this year I picked up a gift from a toy store, and being a geek, of course I picked up some Star Wars themed Lego. It will be gift wrapped and placed under the Kmart Wishing Tree, and I hope that some kid enjoys it as much as I would. Because I love lego!
I don’t see this as some way to boost my karma, I just feel like I owe something back to the organisations that helped us out when I was young. I can appreciate what these people do and it does hit home with the work they do. They help out people in some tough situations, and the tireless work the volunteers do is pretty incredible. There would be a lot of people without homes or food without the people that give up their spare time to help.