15 December, 2018

15 - Christmas Music

Christmas celebrations always crave musical selections. Whether it’s your aunty with her favourite crooner or the traditional carols or favourites on the radio or online streaming. Even Beyoncé at bedtime or Dad’s old mix tapes can be the soundtrack of a merry Christmas. Music plays an important role in life and the mood around Christmas and other events. What would New Year’s Eve be without music? What is going to be your music this Christmas?

Learning a musical instrument has also brought a great deal of joy and comfort to many over their entire lives. Nobody ever regrets being able to play an instrument but some instruments can be expensive and out of reach to families struggling to make ends meet.

The Don’t Stop The Music program on the ABC along with The Salvation Army and Musica Viva have been gathering donated instruments. Dusting them off, giving them a tune up and will be distributing them to help bring music to kids that may not be able to afford an instrument. It will also give great joy to those who have donated knowing that they will have encouraged someone to learn. Instruments need to be played not hidden away.

Music plays an important role in our lives and has proven benefits to the learning development of children.The SA Government’s latest educational program will have benefits to South Australia for many years to come. It may take a decade to measure but providing for a musical upbringing will be a big advantage for our kids future.

So if you can afford to purchase an instrument consider the gift of music this Christmas. Learning to play or sing can provide enormous confidence and joy.

And while we are on the subject of the benefits of music in people's lives, maybe it’s about time we brought the importance of music to the ears of our politicians. If at the start of each parliamentary year they had to learn to sing as a choir then perhaps it might make them think a little differently about how to work together to achieve something good.

The passing of the Australian musical teaching legend Richard Gill earlier this year seems to have finally inspired a raft of emerging desire and acceptance for the importance of musical education in a child’s development. I’m sure Richard would be looking down this Christmas and smiling.

So have a very merry musical Christmas time.

14 December, 2018

14 - Pride in helping others

Only a few years ago Puddle Jumpers were faced with a major disruption to their charity work with the premises they occupied being sold off. It would have spelled the end for most organisations but Melanie Tate and the vounteers of Puddle Jumpers were not about to let down the kids they help.

There are the quiet achievers and others who are simply a force of nature. If you have seen her regular facebook posts, Melanie Tate does not sit in the quiet corner. She was recently awarded a Pride of South Australia Medal for her work with developing children and young people as well as her recent food supply venture to the needy families in Adelaide. A well deserved recognition to Melanie individually and also to the volunteers of [Puddle Jumpers](https://affordablesa.com.au/programs/food/puddle-jumpers-forestville).

For every one award like this there are literally hundreds of stories of people working behind the scenes and helping families across the state. Individuals and agencies that day after day recognise the needs of the community they serve and do their best to support and assist. It is no small effort and the relationship linking these organisations is critical in providing the best and most efficient support.

We would like to congratulate all the agencies and individuals who have worked so tirelessly throughout the year to help other South Australians. You can see them represented on the Affordable SA App.

2018 was a difficult year and we hope that you have a safe and lovely Christmas. We need you back as 2019 is already shaping up to be another big year with new challenges and problems facing families and individuals of South Australia.

13 December, 2018

13 - Christmas traditions

What are your Christmas Traditions?

South Australians love tradition. Whether it’s Showdown or Slowdown, the pigs in rundle mall or the Christmas Riverbank scenes every year outside that famous SA Brewery, it’s just not Christmas without the little things we do as a family. It’s not enough to have the festive decorations in the shopping malls and the high volume of Christmas specials on TV or the sentimental videos on your facebook page. It’s the Lights of Lobethal, the Christmas pageant and the familiar nuisances that trigger the memories that signal it’s truly, really Christmas.

For many years we paid far too much attention to the Northern hemisphere and locked ourselves in the kitchen with ovens blazing and pots boiling, cooking turkeys and puddings for hours on end whilst singing carols depicting snow bounds cottages and reindeer on every corner. With the oven on 180 degrees on a 43 degree day in the S.A summer, it’s a wonder we survived before air-conditioning. Even better if we get cheaper electricity.

Thankfully after putting up with dozens of truly annoying Ozzie Christmas songs over the years, our traditions have evolved to the colder cuts, BBQs and if you can afford the extra cost, a seafood spread. Australia has also seen many immigrants from equally heated countries that have turned our modern Christmas spread into the most glorious bowerbird’s feast with a myriad of flavours.

We also like to inflict our family traditions on potential family members or newcomers into our personal Christmas world. It is a rite of passage and a means to seek out, ”the keepers”. Sometimes it can be a real test of strength and endurance to gain entry onto prime seating at the dining table.

There will be tears, there may be arguments. There will be mess and spills and of course loads and loads of dishes, but we would not change it for quids. For without the whole catastrophe it would not be Christmas in South Australia.

So you might as well enjoy it all. If you’re lucky, one day your kids will be inflicting the same painful traditions on their kids.

12 December, 2018

12 - In the Red Corner

There are no presents under the tree for him. There is no place set at the Christmas lunch or for dinner and yet he is the most generous giver of all. Even when there is an unexpected guest he somehow finds the time to sneak away and wrap a present.

He is the Secret Santa or Kris Kringle, and though he was cloned from the Original Santa or St Nicholas, he has become the the perfect reneissance Santa, even following you to your workplace as the gathering momentum of the Christmas spirit takes hold.

He has also become the means to control the spending on the ever widening circle of friends and family, as well as our social sphere and work colleagues that over the years have somehow crept into our Christmas shopping list. A way of combating the very marketing that he was created to serve. More distressing is the amount of Secret Santa or Kris Kringle poems which are at best on a par with Dad jokes that will be read out loud to all at the office party.

But there is a new kid on the block. He has been hiding in the background supressed by his excessive Christmas toil. Now emerging to challenge the rise and popularity of the Secret Santa and to provide another spending outlet for us to serve. It is the Elf on the Shelf and he comes with accessories.

This Elf has neglected his toy making duties and snuck into our homes and offices. He sees and hears more than Google or Apple and reports directly to Santa of our naughtiness or niceness and whether we are deserving or not. He even has his own rules to follow.

Changing from his traditional subserviant green to red, this Elf's rise in popularity has been greatly enhanced by the online sharing of his excapades and he has quickly become very naughty with antics well outside of his original duty statement. Some of his midnight office pranks colourfully displayed by the photocopies left on the office pin board, twitter and facebook.

Amoungst all this Christmas jockularity it is important to remember the real Christmas. If your belief is of western Religion, it is very specific but whether you're religious or not, Christmas is a time to appreciate and be appreciated. To give hope and have hope within yourself. To consider those around you and those far away or in troubled parts of the world.

We use this precious time to make the world seem that little smaller. To remind us of our faith, in ourselves or in our God.

8 December, 2018

8 - Free Produce Markets

If you're doing it tough in the lead up to Christmas it is worth considering attending one of the Produce Markets available around Adelaide. These markets provide a range of produce such as packet and tinned goods, fruit and vegetables. Markets are either once a week or once a month. Christmas usually sees these markets try to distribute a little bit of extra for Christmas so you might find the odd puddings etc. Try our favourite mini pudding recipe. Run by a range of volunteers these markets are focused on preserving dignity and helping people through hardship.

Foodbank, Oz Harvest and Second Bite are the main sources for the support agencies and the people running these markets so its worth remembering that without these agencies many people would find little food relief. You would know of the huge public campaign recently that was successful in supporting the wonderful Foodbank but its worth remembering that it's all three that help to cater for the wider SA community and regions. In country areas a lot of local small businesses give generously to supporting their own community through their local support agencies. Some people are quick to criticise the big supermarket chains but they happily provide what they can to people in need including homeless shelters etc.

Some of the markets have special requirements such as needing you to register or have a health card or proof you live in the area. Some want gold coin donations. Some have no restrictions. What ever the case they are a good source of food for the family or individual that needs some help. Most have a policy of take what you need and not more than you need or want and bring your own shopping bags. Look in the food section of the Affordable SA App for locations.

Some you can get coffee, cooking demonstrations with sample tastings or a meal.

The Salvation Army, Heart and Soul and Faithworks are the regular and biggest Free Produce Markets in Adelaide and the support agencies that provide Emergency Relief can provide vouchers for Food Bank Hubs in Bowden, Elizabeth, Edwards town and Mount Gambier with the community run hub in Port Pirie.

Be aware that some of these Markets close down for the Christmas period so please check for open times.

7 December, 2018

7 - Santa's Debt hangover

Once again financial counsellors and Helplines are bracing themselves for the big Christmas aftermath of the buy now pay later schemes.

The use of "buy now pay later" schemes have grown to pandemic proportions and this Christmas with the inclusion of Afterpay and ZipPay having most major Department Stores on board, we could see our debt in these schemes reach as high as a billion dollars.

Each year at Christmas time the media warns us of the impending issues with examples of outrageous cost to the average family and each year someone in a business shirt tells us that the government is considering new regulation or laws to prevent these financial disasters to people who are less able to manage. It has become an easy Christmas story to run on the news. I wanted to link to a story from the Adelaide news last night about this subject but the advertising attached to the beginning of the online story was for another pay day lender. Nice irony. So instead attached is a link to Jingle Cats Music with Jingle Bells for your holiday pleasure.

The word from the Helpline floor is that people have done it tough this year and are doing everything to make Christmas a bit special. Many people have already reduced their food to pay for bills such as electricity and will come out of this Christmas period in even more serious financial hardship that could last well into 2019.

Being part of the billion dollar Christmas debt hangover is no way to start the New Year. If you are struggling with money or in hardship you can get assistance through the Affordable SA Helpline 1800 025 539, our Website or App. Or ring the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.