Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas in Perspective - Family Ideas to Re-connect

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, 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?


Lin said...

We buy a lot of things from charities or organizations that help others--our tree is from the Lyon's club, luminaries are from a local church who uses the money to help the homeless, and so forth. If I'm going to buy--I make sure the money goes to help others if possible.

Good ideas you've got here!

Mari said...

Simone - You have such a wonderful heart! I love these ideas and the fact that you intentionally consider these things at Christmas. We do things to help others, but not with such intent. We usually do a shoebox gift, we also give gifts through things like the World Vision catalog which allows you to give an amount of money that is enough to buy something like a goat or chickens for a family. I'm going to look back at your ideas and use some!

Reyna said...

I love all your ideas.

I especially like the "person of the year" idea.

That is a great idea to help keep gratitude in my heart.

I am going to try to think of a "person of the month"
throughout next year.
I think it will be a reminder to count my blessings.

Once again thank you for stirring my heart!

Brian Miller said...

these are great ideas...really like the toy swap...and we do the nursing homes...they always could use some love...

My name is PJ. said...

You're a genius,Simone and this is going to be one of my favorite blog posts this season.

I could probably write an entire blog post answering your question about impressing giving on loved ones, but I give, and have taught others to give, anonymously and under the radar. It's kind of like being a secret Santa all year long.

I will say this - my kids used to get a real jolt out of it when they were my young accomplices. And those lessons have stayed with them as adults.

Christmas lives in our hearts all year long.

Great post!!!

Formerly known as Frau said...

Awesome ideas you and your family are amazing. I love what you do, you inspire others to do better, Thanks!

Stacy Lynn said...

Those are some really great ideas. We've kind of gotten away from doing that sort of thing in recent years, which is not good. It feels like something is missing. I'm going to have to snag one or two of these and get everyone back on track.

We're about the same age, but I don't remember that song "18 cents" at all.

Jill said...

Great post! We do many of these things as well. i feel there's nothing more special then a homemade gift, made from love.
Have a wonderful week!

Tay Talk said...

"Stories by Nona" made me smile.

The person of the year was sweet too.

Heck, the whole list was wonderful.

My family gets in connection with cities family service center and picks a family that needs the most help.

This year it is a family of 7 children, one on the way, parents are divorces and both unemployed.

As a family we go shopping for toys, clothes and food. On Christmas Eve we put everything into big red bags and sneak to the families front porch leaving all the goodies behind. We ring the doorbell and run.

God is good.

Linda Myers said...

I've been busy this year making new memories, as I'm moving beyond having kids at home. I like your ideas and next year I'll do a few of them. Thanks!

Life with Kaishon said...

This post was so beautiful. I am sitting here crying and crying. I love that there are always ways to give and help. I am going to see if Kaishon and Gary and Juan and I can come up with a person of the year to help and bless this year : )

Veronica Lee said...

Great list you have there, Simone! Bless your kind heart.

When we were kids, my mom used to take us to the Old Folks Home where we would decorate the place and sing carols to them. It's a tradition I'd like to pass on to my boys.

Veronica Lee said...

BTW - You're most welcome to visit me in Malaysia!!!

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

What a great post!

Helene said...

I've learned so much from you and this post really speaks to my heart. While I encourage my children to give, I don't have the follow through of them actually SEEING who they're giving to. Like recently, we went through our coat closet and found 7 coats that they no longer wear so I packed the coats up and took them over to a gym that was collecting coats for kids. I should've taken the kids with me to drop the coats off but I saw it as a errand that was just easier to do by myself.

I still have so much to learn, don't I?

Joanna Jenkins said...

Your Person on the Year idea is fantastic. I might borrow it this year for our family.
All great suggestions Simone. Thanks,
xo jj

Nezzy said...

I just adore all your ideas to give back. That is truly what Christmas is all about anyway...showin' His love to the world.'

Great post sweetie!

Ya'll have a richly blessed day!!!

Buckeroomama said...

These are some really, really advice. Thank you!!
You have such a kind and generous heart, Simone. May you be doubly blessed for all the blessings to others.


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