Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas and Helping

Pic of last year's Christmas Tree.

Are you already thinking of the Christmas rigamarole? I know I am. It probably has something to do with Thanksgiving being next Thursday and the biggest shopping day of the year being the day after. I try to avoid that day like the plague. I stay home, do art, laugh at relatives who are up at the crack of yesterday to get to the dawn sales. This year won't be any different. There is nothing I want that bad to shove myself into a store with 10,000 other sleep deprived, hopped-up-on-caffeine, obsessive shoppers. I'm still getting over the fact that Christmas stuff started appearing in stores before Halloween was even over! Now that's just craziness. I understand that the economy is in the toilet and not as many people will be spending as much this Christmas. Stores are trying to advertise earlier so you're looking at product longer and its more likely you'll cave and buy. I get it. But it just brings it home for me how much we have, how much we are blessed, how little we really need. At least in our family.

I say this every year. We need nothing. And yet I still go crazy with Ebay & bookstore shopping purchasing gifts for the family. The kids usually have 10+ gifts a piece. Some little, some big but you get the idea. Too much. I think this year we're shooting for less-is-more. Maybe an electonic something and a couple books per person. Our extended family does this little dance each year called 'what are we doing for gifts THIS year?' Yes, its a dance. We never make a decision until last minute. Sometimes we're choosing names, sometimes we're just buying for everyone. This year I think we're just buying for kids. I hate the whole planning of gifts. It takes the joy out of it all. I tell my family, we can plan all you want but I do what I want. lol If I feel like giving something to everyone, I'll do that. Because for me its all about the giving. I don't care if I get any gifts. I understand why we do the dance, because with 15 people (16 come next week, yay for a new niece!) it can get expensive. I understand it, I just don't have to like it. All the commercialism. I hate that, and yet I contribute to it.

This year we're thinking of spreading the love. We're figuring where we can help out, and what we can do for those who don't have what we have. Our ideas so far:
*** 2 troubled children - a girl in my Sunday School class is a social worker with troubled/struggling families. Every year she is able to hand in the Christmas lists of kids she works with to an agency to fulfill their wishes. This year the agency isn't able to help as much. So we've taken on 2 children; 1 is a boy who is 10 and has similar interests to my 9 yr old dd. Legos, books, etc... We also picked a 14 yr old girl who unfortunately needs baby toys, maternity clothes and layette things. Yes, she is pregnant. My heart went out to her and I had to have her name.
*** The rescue mission downtown allows for help serving food at dinners. I know they're always crowded with help on Thanksgiving but not so much around Christmas. I plan to call and see if we can come on Christmas or the eve before, etc... My mom and SIL (possibly my teen too) are going down to serve this Saturday as well.
*** Our city has an assistance program. They provide food, clothing, assistance with bills for low income families as well as allowing families to come shopping in their building for Christmas gifts (for free.) I'm thinking we could either donate or sort food, or help out when people come for food and gifts.
*** Harvesters is an organization in Kansas City, that provides food to the needy. Many area grocery stores have barrels in the front where you can drop in some groceries you buy and share. I saw recently where a Sunday School class went to the headquarters and helped sort food into boxes to give to various organizations. I'm thinking we could do that.
*** I'm thinking the girls and I could spend an afternoon or two writing notes and Christmas cards to soldiers overseas. I know that a lot of people might be doing that but its another way we can help out and can do that during our school time. I also found that you can send phone cards, gift cards, etc... through here, and care packages here. What a wonderful way to tell our troops we care about them no matter where they are.

Does anyone have any suggestions of other ways to help out? We're still figuring out what is best for us...


Irish Coffeehouse said...

Your Christmas tree is beautiful!

There are tons of great ways to give this year! I actually asked for donations to charity in leiu of gifts for me. I think this year has been an eye opener for many as to just how much we really do have yet take forgranted.

Operation Shoebox is when you fill a shoe box with little things for kids.

www.heifer.org is a nonprofit organization that not only helps people, but teaches them to be fisherman AND trainers too. When they are gifted whatever item it is, they are required to pass it on.

www.compassion.com takes flat donations

www.operationac.com is mailing Christmas trees overseas!!! Hooorah for them!

I think one of the best ones ever is finding your own local chapter for Operation Welcome Home and greeting our troops at the airport. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years (and any flight dates that fall around those special days) are always terrific dates to welcome home our troops.

Peace and blessings to you and yours!!! And I hope your family really feels like they have done their part and made a difference in someone's life this holiday season. It's a wonderful feeling and I love how you are teaching your children the importance of that! :o)

trisha too said...

amen, sister--nothing i wanna buy (or a movie I want to see) bad enough to lose SLEEP over it!!

we always fill stockings (with GOOD stuff) for the children's home, one for each of our own children. i like the idea of sending something to soldiers,
though. we've adopted families
in the past, too. there's always
ways to help, and if everyone would just do a little something, it would make a big difference.

i finally made time to make something--go peek, it's fun!

Rhonda Langley said...

I will be one of the ones in line freezing, laughing, pushing and like a hunter armed with my debit card and plan for grabbing all the best bargains. Instead of waking up early just stay up all night!!! It is a family tradition! Okay not every year and I WILL NOT go to Best Buy but Kohl's is pretty fun at 4AM!!!! I always meet the coolest people standing in line outside the doors.

I DO have a serious Christmas budget and I am VERY good at sticking to it!! Which is why I am at the store at 4AM!!!!!!!

Beverly said...

Impressed with your gift ideas!! They are superb.

Kersten said...

Some further ideas might be to bake cookies and leave them at the local hospital, fire hall or police dept. for those who have shift work over the holidays...

Visit a senior center with handmade cards/ornaments. The cards come in handy, especially with envies, for seniors to write in and mail out...

Hey, when do we get to see pics of the new living room? :)