Ever since I was a kid, Christmas classics like Little Drummer Boy, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown and Frosty the Snowman always brought on the tears and a heart to give. Like the Little Drummer Boy, I always felt like I didn't quite have anything costly or impressive to give. Then there was this song called Eighteen Cents that I listened to over and over again. Back then, it made perfect sense to buy all that she did for just 18 cents...now, it's totally impossible! I remembered one year in elementary school when my class had a gift exchange. My "giver" gave me a lens from an old pair of eyeglasses with a magazine cut out of a cat, glued to the back, and a pin glued to be proudly worn. Even though I'm ashamed to admit it even now, I hated it! I was totally embarrassed to wear an old eye glass lens. It wasn't "cool". But, had I stopped and thought about the giver? Maybe that was all he/she had to give. I wish my parents had reminded me of how it's not the amount or cost of the gift but the heart in which the gift is given.
I think to myself how if we raise our families with the awareness of giving/receiving with the perspective of the giver in mind, then each and ever gift would be gratefully accepted. Here are some suggestions on making Christmas rich and full!
1) How many gifts have you gotten a duplicate of? Pass along the extra gift to someone else that would love to have it. It may be "gently used" (books, wallets, gloves, appliances, games (Wii and Playstation) can be well appreciated.)
2) Trade a toy to get a toy. If you know of a family that has kids your kids age, work on having a toy swap each year. One kid's "junk" or bored toy may be a treasure to another. Explain that they can be a santa helper and pick a toy to give to another child. This will help save time and energy for "santa". (This also helps determine what toys are really needed and what toys aren't.)
3) Make ornaments together and pass them out as a part of the gifts for family and friends. (Working together turns into a fun project.)
4) If your house is well known for being a popular place where people drive by and view your Christmas lights, put a bin out by the curb with a sign that says, "Please donate any canned foods or other items - all proceeds will go to a shelter." As a family, take the items to give to the shelter.
5) Throughout the year collect towels, blankets and other items to take to the animal shelter to help keep the animals in the shelter warm. If you're going to give your child a pet as a gift, go to the shelter first and look. You'd be surprised at all of the many animals that need homes.
6) Start a tradition of going to a retirement home and have your kids participate in a sing a long or make Christmas cards to tape by the residents bedside or door.
7) When I was a kid, all of our families got together to celebrate and spend time with our grandmother. We'd have a very "loose" talent show. We mainly shared songs, poems or anything that we wanted to share. We didn't have video cameras but we were able to "tape record" the events to listen to later on down the years. Enjoy time spent together instead of money spent.
8) One year, my mom read stories into a tape recorder for my daughters to fall asleep by. It was titled, "Stories by Nona". It was one of the best gifts ever. They fell asleep without a fuss, listening to their Nona tell them stories.
9) Every year, before Christmas, as a family, we voted on who our "person of the year" was. This person was someone that we all thought either brought smiles to our faces or made an impact somehow in our lives. We gave a gift to that person with a card expressing how they made a difference. One year, it was my daughter's gymnastic's coach who was not only spent so much time in encouraging her but as a family, she recognized how the sacrifice affected us. She was quite touched and surprised to know that she was our "person of the year".
10) Purchase gloves and scarves from the Dollar Tree to randomly pass out to the homeless. When you see someone that appears to be homeless, look him/her in the eyes and ask if they are okay and listen, really listen to their answer. Then, give them gloves and scarf to help warm their hands.
What are some of the unique ways that you impress giving on your family?