Remembering the Joy of Giving
After reading "Scrooge's Christmas List" I decided to send the below letter to our family and friends. My family has not always been as well off as we are now, and there were times when things were a bit tight. Once we became financially secure, we felt pressure to buy something "very nice" for everyone we knew. This got harder every year because those on our list had no wants or needs. We would spend hundreds of dollars buying a "token" gift that was appreciated but wouldn't have been missed. Every year we dreaded shopping and basically throwing away good money. So, this year we are hosting an Open House for our Neighborhood and we sent the below letter to all our friends and family, via email of course!
Subject: For Christmas, I bought you...
This year we spent a lot of time trying to find you the perfect gift. We looked in stores, in catalogs and on-line. We searched for that something special that once you received it, would let you know how much we cherish your friendship. After many hours of searching, we finally found the perfect gift! This year, instead of buying you something, we decided to honor you. In honor of all our wonderful and generous friends, we selected several Salvation Army Angels.
Each year the Salvation Army puts up 'Angel Trees' all across the nation. People select an Angel, person in need, from the tree and purchases items from their wish list. The items are then wrapped and distributed for the Holidays. It's a wonderful program!
This year we selected 4 Children, 2 boys and 2 girls. We chose a child that was the same age and gender of our children, we then chose an extra older child because they tend to be the ones who get picked last. We read their little story to our children, and then we planned a shopping trip to purchase their gifts. We took them to Target and they had a wonderful time playing Santa.
Afterwards we all went out to lunch and talked about how good we felt. Our children agreed that it was important to help others and they really felt good that the children's wishes would be granted for Christmas. It really made us look at how materialist our Holiday had become- and that was a wonderful gift to us! We all remembered to be thankful for what we have and to share with those who don't have what they need.
So the gift we give to you, all our friends, is passing along your kindness and love to others. In counting our blessings, we are thankful for all our wonderful friends and family. We reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and remember the Spirit that it is about- Love. It our Christmas wish that you will do the same and share with those who are in need this Holiday Season.
We wish you and yours a Blessed Christmas and a Joyous New Year.
I got this idea while shopping for Christams tree ornaments to pass out as gifts in the office. In the store, I saw the prettiest display. Clear wine glasses (which were for sale) were filled with gold tinsel. The effect made the glasses sparkle, and looked absolutely gorgeous under the lights. I decided instead of purchasing gifts bags, I would purchase clear coffee mugs ($1 each), fill with gold tinsel, and put the ornament ($1 each) inside the mug and tinsel. Then I "fluffed" the tinsel to hide the ornament. The effect was gorgeous, especially under the bright office lights, and the "package" turned into another gift!
Recycling the Memories
Our family follows the plan of something we have set up years ago. My parents who are retired and on a very fixed income do not have the money nor the health to shop. What they do is give a gift of something that is an heirloom. Some personal examples are a pink depression glass platter, an antique lamp that was my aunts, my grandmother's china, my grandmother's cookbook (including all my favorite childhood recipes), a George Washington tobacco tin, mom's crystal, an old glass washboard, a metal toy train (1950's) that we all played with at my aunt's house, and the list goes on.
Some of these things may sound silly but do you have a favorite childhood memory that includes an item that is sitting in your mother's china cabinet? Maybe there is a piece of furniture rotting away in the attic that you would cherish by refinishing and adding to your home. My family's point has been "give it while they could see it be enjoyed!" They also do the same thing for birthdays.
This also saves much fighting over whom is going to get what in the future. I must add that my parents insisted that we not spend much on them and they wanted us to do this similar thing for them. I was skeptical but here is a couple of things we came up with: I had a jacket that my mother admired and my husband didn't like the looks of, so it became hers as well as a bottle of Estee Lauder perfume that wasn't quite my fragrance. A tool my husband had (he has lots of tools) that my dad needed. Yes, we still shopped for my folks, but we had the most laughs and fun over opening these other packages that took thought and had heart put into them. Take time to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas!
Slow Down and Enjoy the Season
I'm a married mother of two boys, 8 and 4. We love at Christmas time just to slow everything down and just relax and enjoy my kids. Three years ago we decided to make our own traditions by having no TV on and just the music and the lights of the tree. The kids love the time with no distractions and we always read The Night before Christmas, and the story of Jesus' birth. We play lots of card games and talk. I think this is the best part of Christmas before Santa comes.
Stretching Out the Season
We started a tradition surrounding the Epiphany (Jan 6). This is the 12th day of Christmas but more importantly, it is the day the Wise Men arrived in Jerusalem to worship the baby Jesus with their gifts. So, on Epiphany, each of our children receives 3 small gifts. These are not purchased in addition to their Christmas loot but set aside for Epiphany. It allows us to stretch out the holiday a little and also allows the little ones to appreciate their gifts more, since they aren't overloaded on Christmas morn.
Inexpensive and Cute
The neatest idea for a great Christmas gift that costs under $5 for 2 people is to buy a wire whisk (all kitchens use them). Fill them with Hershey's kisses and include this saying, "We 'whisk' you a Merry 'Kiss' mas". If you want to you can tie another bag of kisses with ribbon. Great for friends and neighbors.