After the 2018 Christmas food poisoning misunderstanding, Kylie had decided to host Christmas at her house. Kat would have been fine with that if Kylie had only respected the Christmas traditions. There was nothing wrong with the food, and admittedly they were all able to gather around Kylie’s dining table. But the decorations seemed to be missing in action; a tree, a wreath on the door and a few Christmas themed candles and serviettes hardly create a Merry Christmas. Kat knew that Kylie wouldn’t remember the themed toilet paper or handtowels for the powder room, so she brought those herself. But you would have thought that Kylie would have remembered to have a Christmas apron and hat and those cute little trinkets to put on the wine glasses.
Things really took a turn for the worse when it came time to give the gifts. Kylie’s mother-in-law, Helen, had just read something grim about death cleaning and made a big fuss about giving Kylie a set of champagne flutes that she and her husband had received for their wedding. Where were people’s manners? That’s not a proper gift! Helen had a thing or two to learn about the art of giving. Inexplicably, Kylie seemed to be genuinely delighted. Given the tantrum Kylie had when Kat had tried to give her the Ken Done placemats, coasters and matching vintage plastic tray, this reaction was out of character indeed.
Anyway, it was January now. Christmas was old news and the bushfires ravaging the country had a way of putting everything into perspective.
Watching the devastation, Kat was grief-stricken. She couldn’t imagine losing everything like those poor people had. Looking around her home, all the things she’d collected over the years, reminders of who she was and things she’d achieved, gave her a sense of comfort. She watched one family interviewed on television. They didn’t even know where they would sleep that night. The daughter looked about Tiffany’s age. Poor love. She’d lost her favourite teddy.
Kat looked around again at her own abundance and knew what she had to do. First she drove to the variety store to buy a load of jumbo zip storage bags. While she was there she picked up some things that would come in handy to someone who had lost everything. She got a toilet brush, a 36-peg laundry airer for your unmentionables, a couple of plastic serving trays and some cheap Christmas cards on sale. Then went straight back home to start filling the bags.
She used one bag for the children’s toys. There was a knitted clown that Tiffany didn’t play with any more (she’d never actually played with it), some dress up costumes, some balls that just needed inflation, some puzzles that she was pretty sure had all the pieces, and a walkie talkie without batteries but the kids could still have fun with them.
The mother had been wearing just a light summer dress. Kat couldn’t see her freeze, so she went right to the wardrobe in the spare room to find something warmer. There were some windcheaters with a lovely applique design, some cargo pants, and a pair of jeans that only needed a button sewn on.
Homewares were next. She selected an Easter-themed tablecloth and was happy to let go of it because she had another one still in its plastic wrap. She would sacrifice her set of 6 prawn cocktail dishes and cocktail forks. She added some placemats with a gumleaf pattern because they’d come in handy for Australia Day. And she threw in the Ken Done placemats, coasters and matching vintage plastic tray. Too late Kylie.
Kat felt good for the first time in ages. She could see a way to help people and make some room in her home at the same time. Her tea towel drawer, for example, had been bulging and she hadn’t been able to fit any of her new ones in. Now she could since she donated a bunch of old ones.
Kat packed up the car ready to send the bags off to where they were needed. She knew Kylie’s mother-in-law was high up in the CWA. She would know where to take the stuff, so she called to ask. Helen told her the authorities had asked for no donations of goods at the moment. They only wanted cash. She even read out an article over the phone.
“A “tsunami of donations” to bushfire victims has caused a logistical nightmare that is diverting resources away from firefighting and other essential tasks, emergency services and non-profit organisations say. The public has been asked to stop giving goods and give cash instead. “We want to say thank you, but please send money,” said the recovery coordinator. Fire stations, community halls, football grounds and surf clubs are “chock full” of donated goods. In some cases, Australian Defence Forces personnel had been diverted away from essential tasks – such as clearing roads – to sort and remove goods that were in buildings used to house fire trucks or hold community meetings. It’s wasting the valuable time of our community volunteers.”
Kat was crestfallen. Helen said she and her CWA friends were going to hold a garage sale, and Kat was welcome to bring her things along. Helen said, “Our motto is Everything must go! Every dollar we raise for the bushfire recovery will make a difference so we’re taking all offers.” But Kat didn’t like the sound of that. She wanted her things to go to the people who really needed them. She didn’t want some hipsters to pick up a bargain at her expense with just a pittance of money going to the bushfire victims.
She’d think about it for a while first. The art of giving was a harder lesson to learn than she’d expected.
If you’d like to know more about how you can help, visit Bushfire Support.
Catch up on all the past Adventures of Kat here…