Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Believe in CHRISTmas!

This holiday season, Macy's wants everyone - from the most enthusiastic to the most cynical- to believe in and embrace the holiday spirit of love and charity. To this end, Macy's is collecting letters written to Santa Claus in special boxes located at all Macy's stores. For every letter received, Macy's will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (If you aren't familiar, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wishes and brings a little joy to children with life-threatening illnesses.)

They offered me a $20 Macy's gift certificate (that I'm going to pass on to you) to help spread the word. If you're shopping at Macy's, drop off a letter to Santa and help raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation.

I'd like to take it one step further though. Because money is tight for so many people this season, I've seen a lot more families cutting back on spending and the whole commercialism of Christmas, and instead embracing the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That's what it's all about.

I propose, in the true spirit of Christmas, we try to be more Christ-like this season. I'm asking that everyone take a minute and leave me a comment here telling me what you're doing this year to help make Christmas more special; more meaningful, for your family. Perhaps you're spending time each Sunday of Advent reading from the Bible. Maybe you're "adopting" a less fortunate family to buy gifts for. Or maybe you're volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating money to Nothing but Nets. I want to hear about it.

My family is participating in the Samaritan's Purse project again this year. The kids have fun doing Operation Christmas Child and packing shoeboxes with small toys, games, candy & toiletries. The boxes are then distributed to needy children around the world. The mission of Samaritan's Purse is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I should have written about this before because they collect these boxes for Christmas delivery during the week of November 17-24. However, you can send boxes anytime, year-round to their headquarters in NC.

Every day I have people write me asking me to talk about their favorite charities. Although I believe they're all worthwhile causes, I just don't have the time to research and write about a dozen different charities each week. This would be a great time for you to talk about what you're doing to help your charity! And if there are any readers looking for ways to make the holidays more meaningful, but you're not sure what to do, read my comments! There is sure to be a wealth of wonderful ideas!

On Friday, December 10, I'll choose a random winner and give them the $20 Macy's gift card. In addition, I'll donate $20 to the charity of their choice.

Thank you for participating!

*****Oops, I meant to write Friday, December 12th. I told you I'm not good with numbers! Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Carla!*****

176 comments:

Mike said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you... This year, I've volunteered to ring the bell for the Salvation Army (happily telling all who donate, "Merry Christmas!") and will be donating extra to a couple charities I regularly support, my sponsored child, two other charities in need, and buying food for a food pantry.

This is not bragging, and I hope it doesn't sound that way. I just think it's something we should make a priority to help keep things in perspective.

pednurse said...

We sponsored a couple of kids through our church for the local "Christmas for Everyone" campaign (similar to Angel Trees where we provide gifts for a certain child whose name & info we are given). My 1st grade daughter participated in the same charity with her entire 1st grade class at school, sponsoring a child. We also did a "Pack the Pulpit" campaign at church to bring in food donations for our church's food pantry. As for our own family traditions, we bake Jesus a birthday cake for Christmas Day to celebrate his birthday to really help emphasize to our children why we even celebrate this holiday to begin with (we even sing "Happy Birthday" to him & "help" Him blow out the candles!).

Ben and Melissa James said...

Every year we purchase gifts for the foster children of the Christian Family Care Agency. This year we were able (with the help of some friends) to purchase 50 gifts for these kids without parents. It was great for my kids to learn how blessed they are and to learn how to give instead of just get!

Mayberry Mom said...

Our church was instrumental in setting up an inner city mission in Milwaukee. Every year the people that work with that mission set up a Christmas tree at the church with names on it. there are two options~you can choose a stocking ornament and buy everyone in that family a package of socks and a few "family fun things" (games, lotion for the ladies, etc.) or you can choose a heart ornament and donate $$ for the family to get their picture taken at the annual Christmas party. We had to take a few years off as we were really tight financially, but this year we were able to do this again and we had a blast shopping for the family.

Our church also gave every family a booklet called "31 Family Devotions for Christmas" and we are doing things from that every few days.

We read the Christmas story every Christmas Eve and continually remind the boys what Christmas is really about~Christ.

Our church also does Operation Christmas Child, but I was too disorganized in Nov. to get it done LOL

Kecia said...

My husband works for our local United Way which means we'll have many different opportunities to share our time and material goods at Christmas time this year. However, one of our most favorite activities, and something that has become a tradition over the past couple of years, is delivering 'Sub for Santa' gifts. We get a list of a few families and what they requested and get to go to the Sub for Santa collection area and go through and pick our the items requested. Then we hand deliver it (in an conspicuous black bag) a few days before Christmas. Although I'm sure it is a joy seeing the wonder in the children's eyes when they open their gifts on Christmas morning, I love seeing the hope and peace that come into their parent's eyes as we hand over a bag of goodies.

Jenene said...

My husband and I have been forced to look to Christ this season more than ever. He got fired a few weeks ago from his full-time job. I'm not working because I don't have a greencard yet.

Yet somehow, we made rent this month, and it looks like we'll be good for January as well.

God has been so near and so good to us, and my husband is happier now than he has been in a long time. We are definitely aware of God's continuing blessings in our life despite recent circumstances.

Oh, and one area where I had to take a step of faith was to continue the support of my sponsor child through Compassion International. I don't to stop donating, even if times are tough.

Jenn said...

I dropped off my kids letters (and one I wrote too) to the Macy's Mailbox. I think it's such a great way for Macy'sto get involved. The Make A Wish is my favorite charity! Thanks for getting the message out there. I posted about it on my blog, but I'm not as populare as you are ;)

Amanda said...

My preschool I work at did the Operation Christmas Child. And my family adopted an angel off the Salvation Army Christmas tree.

aviendha1979 said...

My daughter and I are doing the daily devotions over at Festal Celebrations. My little girl is too small for making the accompanying Jesse Tree ornaments, but I look forward to making this a yearly tradition for our family. Such a great way to remind us daily that we are preparing to celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Marla said...

My family and I do the Angel Tree (local families that have children but can't afford to get presents for them) every year with our children for our church and also the Operation Christmas Child if we can.

In my opinion, if I did win, I would donate the gift card to a charity or to Coleman Scott and his family.

I hope everybody remembers the real reason we celebrate Christmas, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. It's not about the presents, it's not about the decorations, it's not about the parties, it's about celebrating the birth of Jesus. I hope everybody has a blessed Christmas this year.

Patricia said...

Hi Dawn,

We also decided we don't want to participate in the over-commercialisation of Christmas. We're moving back to France from Africa on December 22. My Christmas gift will be a freezing house and having to go grocery shopping on the 23rd... *grin*

I used to support various charities before living here in Senegal. But somehow I got caught up in a wonderful school project and started my own charity: a sponsorship fund for poor kids' tuition fees.
You can read about the school here (have everyone's kids look at these pictures! they might realise that their school actually is nothing to whine about):
http://ivmoores.com/pat/

There is also a blog:
http://eos-pikine.blogspot.com/

Thanks, Dawn, for giving us the opportunity to present the causes that are important to each of us.

Wishing you a peaceful, christmassy Christmas...!

Tracy said...

My kids and I adopt a family every year with the salvation army. The kids really enjoy picking out the presents for other kids. We are also spending a lot more time on the family getting together part of christmas. My mother in law was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago and it has been pretty hard on everyone so we are going to cook her a great christmas dinner and spend a lot of family time together!

Robin said...

I just ran in the St. Jude's Memphis Marathon. I ran the 1/2 marathon. It was my 1st one and I'm already planning to do it again next year. What an amazing experience!! So many people fighting every day to help their children get well. Some winning the fight...some losing...so sad.
Merry Christmas Dawn!

Kristen said...

We do several things to keep Christ in Christmas. We packed boxes for Operation Christmas child, we read books that relate to the Biblical reason for Christmas each day, and this year we are doing the Jesse Tree for Advent each day leading up to Christmas. It is a great way to celebrate the season!

Jen said...

What a great idea for a post! I have been involved in a local moms group for the last 2 years. Each year we pick a local charity and everyone contributes what they can, when they can. As individuals, the donations are small but as a group we truly make a difference. This year, we have FOUR charities! The first is for Zoey Needham who was born with Downs syndrome and a heart defect and she was recently diagnosed with luekemia. Our second is Operation Christmas Child, where shoeboxes are packed with small toys and necessary items and then shipped to third world countries. Our third is a local family that lost their father in a train accident in Chatsworth, CA. They own a music store in our town and they have 3 Autistic children. We are trying to make this Christmas a little merrier for them and have contributed Disney gift cards so they can spend the holidays at DisneyLand. And the final chairty is called Tender Life Maternity Home. It's a local shelter for teenage or abused mothers that opt out of abortion. Some give the babies up and others raise them. They take in donations of maternity clothes and used baby items as well as school supplies for the girls still in high school.

LindseySue said...

My husband and I have never bought a lot of Christmas presents for our children. They are too young to beg for gifts, but it's not a tradition we want to start. This year we did operation Christmas child (shoeboxes) and we are adopting a family (we are youth leaders at the church and are making it a youth group project). We are doing Christmas crafts every few days(relating to Jesus) and have an advent calendar counting down to baby Jesus' birthday. My boys have a nativity set they play with and we will read the Christmas story as a family and go to our Christmas Eve service together. Those are just a few of the things we are doing now, but when they get older we look forward to doing more service projects with them!

lawnajo said...

On Saturday, we are taking our kids to the Nativity Celebration. All of the churches in our community work together to put it on. People bring in their nativity sets to display. A lot of the sets are from different countries/cultures. They also have "live nativities" of people in costume.

On Stage said...

Instead of buying gifts for our family members this year, my husband and I decided to donate to our favorite charites in "honor of" our family members. We chose the Cystic Fibrosis Schloarship Fund (a charity statred and run by my cousin), The American Greyhound Assoc. (my in-laws have adopted 2 of their greyhounds) and The Humane Society of Northwest Indiana (the shelter where we got our awesome dog). It might feel "different" for some of our family this year not opening up gifts, but hopefully they will appreciate the choice we made and continue and make this a new tradition.

Gwyneth said...

We dont have anything extra this year so haven't been able to do much. Still when the barber school had their "all prodeeds from haircuts goes to Primary Childrens Hospital make a wish" day we all went and got a haircut. Even if all they did was snip 1/8th of an inch off my sons hair. We also went and checked out the festival of trees (proceeds go to the same place).

Both activities were fun for my son, and we loved that the money spent went to something good.

Nicole said...

Thank you for the reminder about the true meaning of Christmas. It's so easy for our priorities to get a little out of order. We've adopted a Salvation Army angel, and we're more active than usual with church activities. May the true blessing of Christmas be in your heart this holiday season and throughout the year!

Kathy Polak said...

We adopt several Senior Citizens with our local Meals on Wheels program. It's nice to buy for Seniors that are just wanting something simple like a blanket or sheets. We also adopt children in foster care who otherwise might not receive anything for Christmas. My oldest daughter is really enjoying buying for the kids and "grandmas" this year. It's nice to see her enjoying buying for someone else and teaching her the importance of giving rather than receiving. Times are very tight for everyone these days but it's great to be able to do what we can to help others that are less fortunate than us.

~Kathy

Jackie said...

Hi Dawn,
This year with the help of a friend that lost her husband in Iraq in August organized "Stockings for Soldiers" Stockings were filled with everything from books to toothpaste and taken to our local armory to be sent to Iraq.

Not You're Average Soccer Mom said...

I wrote a blog about something similiar to this on my page about the meaning this Christmas has to me. It is regards to the way my Christmas has changed in light of a particular situation. Two years ago in feb. marks the anniversary my children and I lost our home to a house fire. In that home was a lot of our family memories. Christmas is the time of year the kids and I take and decorate our entire home. I love to bake and make home made fudge so a lot of our holidays are spent in the kitchen. One of our favorite things to make is birthday cake. Then Christmas night after everyone has eaten and gifts are unwrapped we turn down the lights, light the birthday candles and we sing happy birthday to baby Jesus to celebrate his birth. It was memoreis like this that made our home so special to us. And holidays always brought us together in so many ways. So as you can imagine last year was a difficult year as I did not even have so much as a tree for our family. But through the family and friends I have they gave the children and I entire decorations for my home. These included a prelit tree with an fiber optic angel, a tree skirt, wreaths and garland for our door, out door decorations and indoor decorations. But the most special gift they gave to us was each of them gave us a few ornaments from their tree to us. And my family members gave me ornaments they had that my son had made over the years. Special treasures I could not replace. I can honestly say last years Christmas had the most special meaning to me. This years focus for me is to replace some of the things my children lost in our home specific toys and books they love to read. Even though these are monetary items I know receiving them will bring some closure to these children. They have been through a lot the past two years but as I have said to them through this entire circumstance as long as we are all together as a family we can survive anything!

Anonymous said...

My church is adopting a family for Christmas. These 15 year old "kids" just had a baby that was born with a heart defect. She had a couple of surgeries and will require several more over the years. She's still at the hospital. The 15 year old girl decided to keep the baby even with pressure from the family to abort. The young girl lives in a small apartment with her single mom and not a lot of money. The young parents are sleeping at the hospital most nights. We hope through our prayers and with the support of a Christian church that maybe we can help bring this family to Christ. We're all donating money to help.

I have a personal attachment because I have a heart baby as well and can't imagine 15 year old kids going through this. I've had baby furniture stored that I planned on selling but I've offered it to this family, in which they have accepted some. I hope to show my kids that it's so much more rewarding to help those in need than any money I might have recouped for these items.

This was a great idea Dawn. I love reading all of these.

Teresa said...

Normally I have let my children pick names off trees and find the kids gifts. This year we were in a store which had names of animals in Foster care. They asked if we could pick dog names and help them out. In the end we adopted four dogs and two cats. We also grabbed ten extra blankets for the shelter to send with new pets.

The kids are also going to serve at a homeless shelter the weekend before Christmas. I can't go as I recently had knee surgery and would be in the way more than helpful. I've picked up various clothes to donate, and cleaned out closets once again to send.

I send small donations to the Red Cross and United Way. When our town was severely damaged in a recent tornado, their services were invaluable. I'll never forget the hot showers they provided and the comfort when life was so bleak.

I realize it isn't much, but if more did the little we do they'd feel much better about themselves. It is about giving, in a world where receiving is expected in to many cases.


Teresa (CO)

Denise ~ Paper Ponderings said...

We're doing an Advent box that has a verse and a trinket relating to the verse in each box.

Anonymous said...

Dawn,

I think it's awesome that you use your blog to spread a charitable word!! God bless you!

In our family, we participate in "The Giving Tree" at our church. There are two Christmas trees set up in the Narthex of our church. We pick an ornament(s) from the tree, and purchase whatever is listed on the ornament (i.e. - toy for a girl toddler, phone card for a soldier, warm mittens/hat for 6 -8 year old boy, etc. . .). Then, anytime during December, we drop off our wrapped gift(s) (with the ornament attached so they know what's in it the package) under the Christmas tree and everything is donated to our Neighborhood Services Center to help out the needy families in our community. You never know who is actually getting your gift, but you DO know that you're helping to make someone a little happier this holiday season. After all, that's what it should be about, right??

Happy Holidays to you and your family!!

Donna in PA :)

Tonya said...

Dawn,

Hi there! My family adopted two children off the angel tree at our local mall. We do this every year, one boy and one girl. Every child needs a Santa Claus to come on Christmas morning after all. We look at what their parents say they need, and get it, and we also look at that child's dream gift, and get that. So instead of giving then just one item, they get many items from us. The child has to have their dream gift, after all it is the time of year for Magic!

This year it was a little harder because we have four children of our own, and my husband got his hours cut at work just before the holiday season was to start. I am a stay at home mom. However, we still did it, and will be dropping off their gifts this weekend! I love Chritmas and have always wanted to see their little faces when Santa arrives at their door.

I hope you and your family have a Very Merry Christmas, and a Wonderful New year!

Garth and Becky said...

Our children participated in Operation Christmas Child last year and it was a great experience (for us and them). I think with all that's going on in our nation and economy today, it's extra-important to help others in need!

Anonymous said...

We always donate to the local charity for needy kids. Always give something..dollar, coins etc...to the Salvation Army man and he always lets my son ring the bell! We usually go to all the local churches Christmas programs..the free ones!! (Cause Im a single mom and school teacher= not much money!!!) This year I have decided to give everyone $10.00 for them to "Pay it Forward"----they have to do something nice for a stranger. On New Years Day Dinner we will all tell what we spent our money on. (They will also get a little gift..Im not a total scrooge!)

My son is 4 and getting him to listen to Bible stories is not as easy as it sounds, but we sit down each night and read a story from his Children's Bible. He likes that so far...we may even keep this up after Christmas.
BTW..I'm very pleased that you are a Christian and not afraid to say it and talk about and pass it on to others. God Bless you and your family this Christmas and all year long!

Cat said...

This year instead od adopting a Salvation Army angel, we adopted a co-worker and his wife. They had been trying to get pregnant for quite some time and after many failed attempts have turned to adoption from Russia. They are required to visit serveral times for 2 weeks at a time and all of that comes out of their pocket. They had been trying to do as much money saving as possible (recycling coke cans and selling casseroles). So we are all donating as much money as we can spare to help fund their efforts of bringing home their soon to be daughter. Hopefully with any luck from above they maybe able to have their daughter home with them for next Christmas.

Carla said...

Thank you Dawn for this post! I am celebrating the birth of Jesus this CHRISTmas with my family.
We made our Operation Christmas Child boxes. Sponsor a family for the season. Sponsor 2 children through Compassion International and a pastor through ServeIndia and donated to our local Pregnancy Resource Center.

walking girl said...

My church is doing two things this year - a food drive to restock the local food bank, and a fund-raising drive to help the local crisis pregnancy center.
Our family agreed to a $15 limit per person (first time ever!) and the difference is going to World Vision. Another major cause around here (Pacific Northwest) is Advent Conspiracy - check it out at www.adventconspiracy.org
Thanks, Dawn!

Anonymous said...

We are borderline being a family in need lol but as a family we read a devotional prayer every night and open the advent calendar together. Also we have donated coats to children in need at our church. On Christmas day we have a cake for Jesus and sing happy birthday :) Hopefully next year we can help a little more and get the kids involved some too!

Katie Skiff said...

What a great topic. Money is always tough at this time of year and it can really bring you down and not make you want to even do anything!
We also do the boxes for Samaritan's Purse through our church. It's a great way for the kids to learn and to think about buying things for others. We also donate to a local program that buys clothes for kids in foster homes, or that are struggling.

I really like the post above about adopting a family you know....that really rocks!!

Carla said...

Oh and Dawn?
Friday is December 12th. :)

Jake said...

You should be proud on using your blog to promote charities. I saw the Macy's commercial recently. I think it's a great idea!

Monica said...

Our extended family (the adults) have chosen to not exchange gifts with each other and instead, we are donating the money we would have spent to a charity that we are selecting as a family.

My husband is a fire fighter, and his station routinely volunteers to ring the bell and solicit donations for the Salvation Army at local grocery stores.

We also donate to the area food pantry, and adopt a family so our son (2.5) can learn to give to those in need.

Bekah said...

Last year we bought our Christmas cards from an organization called Paidia that helps children over in Israel. This year we bought Christmas ornaments. The really cool thing is that we are buying things from Bethlehem to help celebrate Christmas and in turn helping the children of this war torn land! Check out this organization at www.pidev.org

Mark & Abbie's Blog (mostly Abbie's) said...

My husband and I decided last year that we didn't really need to get gifts for each other. If we want something, we usually purchase it or tell the parents and that works. We decided that each year around Christmas we would find a service project we could do as a family. This year we began to read a blog by a nurse who works on Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that shares Christ by ministering to the health needs of those in Africa. The nurse had mentioned the need for supplies for a ministry that goes into the country they may be docked at. They do hospice and such. We've purposed, as a family to prepare and ship at least two large boxes of supplies to this ministry and have begun to include others around us to participate as well. This is a special project for us, because we will be adopting from West Africa in the next few years.

We also enjoy participating in Operation Christmas child and allow each child to fill one box.

dgmommie said...

We do the Angel Tree every year. My husband donates money at work, and then the secretaries choose the ones to purchase for from the Angel Tree with all the money collected from employees.

Last night, I took our three kids to the mall, and each of them (ages 6, 12, and 14) chose one child, and I chose a child too. We then went across the street to Walmart (so our money would go further) and purchased things for those 4 children. My children chose their own items for their own kids they chose. We got 2 or more toys for each of the kids from the Angel Tree, along with at least 2 and more often 4 clothing items to go along with the clothes.

Just Janice said...

We bought an Advent wreath and each Sunday of Advent we light the appropriate candles and talk about their significance...the first candle was the Prophets', the second is the Bethlehem candle. The kids think this is really cool, and it reminds them of what Christmas is really about.

Cheryl said...

I'm broke this Christmas, too, but I love doing something for others on Christmas and whenever I can. We did the Samaritan's Purse boxes at our church again this year, too. And I always find an "Angel Tree" somewhere and buy a few gifts for the children. Then I buy some warm clothes and take them to "Manna Ministries". (That's Bangor Maine's version of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.) They usually put out a radio ad saying what they need, and it's usually adult sweat pants and sweat shirts, hats, socks, and gloves. So I go to Walmart and load up on those items and then go drop them off at Manna. It always makes me feel like Christmas is really here. This year we are going to make a cake and have a birthday party for Jesus, just like we did when my girls were little (they're both married now). That's what our pastor suggested last Sunday, to help people really get in the celebration mode, and I thought that was a great idea!

Becs said...

I already dropped of a letter last week, but was so happy to hear about the program... and I love the concept of your post.

We always take a few angels from the angel tree at church. This year my daughter's 3 year old preschool class adopted a child and selected what to get for him. It has really opened up conversation that you wouldn't normally have with a child that young. We are also making a meal for a family in need (with another family) for them to have for a Christmas feast!

We try to keep our holidays from going over the top. One way we do this is that Santa leaves only 3 things... in honor of the Magi who left 3 gifts for Baby Jesus. (They are buddies. And we find this is a good way to relate the Santa aspect and Christ aspect of the holiday.)

We sometimes miss a Sunday mass, but never do during Advent... even if we are traveling.

Of course this year, my daughter's biggest wish was "I hope no bad guys come after daddy on christmas because the whole family has to be together and cuddle." (My husband is in law enforcement and will be on duty both Christmas Eve night and Christmas night.) I thought it was so sweet that she thought of that... and asked to include it on her letter to Santa.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for encouraging "paying it forward", Dawn.

My girlfriends since high school (28 years and counting...yes, we are that old!) and I will have our annual holiday get-together this weekend. Along with catching up, exchanging grab bag gifts and having some much-needed drinks, we are all making a donation to our local Animal Care Council. Especially when times are tougher for humans, helpless animals and those dear souls who care for them need our donations. My daughter and I will deliver the money and some other needed supplies.

Tiff said...

This year our extended families are getting a card from Christian Childrens fund, saying that a pig was bought on their behalf for a family in Uganda. Or goat, or mosquito nets, or whatever we chose that person or family. We kicked off the season ringing the salvation army bell for part of the day, we served food with Red Cross on Thanksgiving ( as well as donated a cook turkey)..and delivered for meals on wheels (**sidenote: did you know meals on wheels does not operated on holiday such as thanksgiving and Christmas...or at least in my town...how silly huh?).....we gave $100 bill to the lady on the corner we buy our paper from every sunday, and told her to keep the change,...

I'm not telling you all this to brag. I dont even want the $20 gift card to Macys so please do not put my name in the running. I am telling you this because, with out the CHURCH home that I have, the majority of these things would not have happened. I praise my church, and my outreach pastor for giving me these opportunities, and Thank GOD, for molding me and changing me and giving me the compassion that I do have now for people who dont have what I have. I firmly believe that out of nothing comes something. YOu may not think you have anything to give, but just your time or a smile, or a prayer. In this time of "cutting back" dont cut out JESUS. After all, we are celebrating HIS birthday, shouldnt HE get the best gifts?!?!??!?!
Brandon Heaths song, give me your eyes.....
"Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTsYAZvHsEQ

When you look at people what do you see? Dont look at them and judge them, look at them and SEE them the way JESUS would see them........
Tiff in Texas

Elleah said...

We did the shoebox for Operation Christmas Child again. Christmas is completely different for us this year b/c we are not buying any gifts. Instead, we are giving to World Vision by purchasing things from their Gift Catalogue. We are also collecting money for World Vision on both sides of my extended family, so I'm really excited to give to people in need this year!

tchrbev said...

Dawn,

You have a heart of gold. Thanks for this wonderful post.

My children helped prepare Christmas boxes to be sent to soldiers. The event was sponsored by our homeschool organization. It's a small gesture, but we hope the small things we do here and there will take root in the hearts of the children.

Blessings,
Bev

Becky McVey said...

I am making more gifts this year, which I feel makes me focus on each person more as I am creating personalized jewelery. I really have to think about their colors, their style, their tendencies, etc.

I am also hosting a fundraiser at our local Uno's to support families in need from the school for the Deaf where I work in Boston (come to the Allston Uno's anytime on the 19th if you are a Boston reader!)

Thanks to all who've mentioned the work they are doing to make others' season bright ... that is the meaning of the holidays, afterall!

Vivian M said...

We always sponsor charities and help the less fortunate throughout the whole year, not just during the holidays. But this year, we are being selfish and taking a road trip across country to see my mom, who is dying of an inoperable brain tumor and pulmonary fibrosis. She turned blue and was hospitalized a few days ago, and we are praying she makes it thru this and holds on long enough to have one last holiday with her grandkids. If by any chance we are picked, please donate the certificate to a charity, that would make us extremely happy. And prayers for my Mom would be an added bonus.

Melissa said...

We are buying a gift for a child of a prisoner thru Operation Christmas Child and Prison Fellowship. Our church also hands out food boxes and we will help with that.

Angela P. said...

My kids and I are doing "12 days of Giving" this year for Christmas. We may not have much to give, but we're giving SOMETHING for 12 days. So far, we've decided on all collected change to the bell ringers at walmart, cookies to the firedepartment, coffee or warm drink to those standing on the side of the road holding "going out of business signs", lunch to an elderly person in our neighborhook, etc. I want my kids to know that Christmas isn't all about getting the latest toy and with the economy the way it is now, this is the perfect time to start!

becky said...

every year my church does a "Forest of Giving" -- we collect mittens, hats, scarves, toiletries, etc for a local charity (circle of concern). i also donated our summer drive from church (same idea of gifts) to my school's adopt-a-family drive!

Kathy said...

We have adopted a Single mom this year for Christmas. I have been helping her find a job, apply for state assistance, and helping care for her baby. We will be buying them both presents for Christmas! Our kids have so much, it feels good to help someone that has so little!

Thanks!
Kathy

liz simmonds said...

we started giving our kids just three gifts when they were babies. Jesus got three gifts, so why should they get more than the Savior of the world!?!

we're adopting families with our sunday school class. we donated gently used toys to the food pantry. we gave food to the pantry. we're praying for families in need. we're praying for soldiers away from home & in harms way.

Alexis said...

what an amazing thing, I'm so excited to get the boys to sit and write letter to Santa. Thank you for sharing all the wonderful ideas and charities.

Alexis :)

geisme said...

Well, since my husband has been unemployed since June, our money IS tight, but God in his faithfulness blessed us with some gift cards for the Christmas season. We are taking some of that money & getting gifts for our Angel tree at church. This year it is for children who's parent(s) are incarcerated. Our charities & where we distribute extra money to every year changes.
May all of us remember Christ this Christmas season.

Tiff said...

We don't have extra money, but we find ways to show our kids what Christmas is really about. We would love to sponsor a child or adopt a family, but we just can't afford to.

We have a tradition of letting the kids pick out a birthday present for Jesus. They get to pick out whatever they want (within reason) and we donate it to Toys for Tots. We talk a lot about the meaning behind the gesture, which I think is important.

This works well for people who want to help but can't afford much, it can be as little as a $5 toy and the kids still undertand the meaning behind it.

Great topic, I love it!

Roni said...

Hi Dawn, I do the same thing each and every year,... for the past 17 years. I wrote about it on my blog, but I will also write it here. 18 years ago my dad started a memorial service for families of deceased children. I have helped out for 17 of those years ( the first year I was a senior in high school and stayed home). Now that my parents are deceased, our church has continued to host this. I go there every year to provide love and support to those families. It is such an uplifting event and something that means so much to the families. I usually try to buy gifts for a family in need, but this year I am unable to do so because my husband is laid off work.

Becki said...

We went and turned in our letters to Santa at Macys the other day. Even the housecats meowed letters, that I transcripted of course. =)
We are collecting old socks, catnip and bells and making cat toys for a local no-kill shelter. We have had people stick those socks that lost thier match off to the side for us to use.

Cheri-Beri said...

Every year we give to Prison Ministry Fellowship's Angel Tree. My husband is a cop so this is near and dear to his heart.

This year we're also helping a school that's starting in Papua, New Guinea. Our church supports a missionary who is starting the school. The children in the remote villages have the equivalent of a 5th grade education when they graduate from high school. If they leave the village to make more money, they are passed over 99% of the time for people with more education from the bigger cities. This does nothing put perpetuate the poverty. The missionary has a list of things we can send (his son will be taking them to him in January). My daughter chose short sleeved polo shirts.

God bless you, Dawn. I'm going to Macy's tomorrow and will be taking a letter!

Rachel said...

Our friend is a young single mom with two boys. She is absolutely amazing in that she is hearing-impaired, suffers from grand-mal seizures, and has been diagnosed with late stage cancer.

We're adopting her family this Christmas in hopes to make it a memorable one.

Thank you for the great reminder about CHRISTmas!

Kylie said...

My dad is one of the main people in charge of Operation Christmas Child. He hires volunteers and supervises the warehouse during the Christmas season. Thank you for participating in this awesome program and for mentioning it on your blog. I will make sure to tell him!! I mail my box to Boone, NC every year since I always manage to miss collection week!!

Coats said...

We will be giving to St. Jude. Your blog was beautiful tonight!

Charissa said...

Reece's Rainbow is a ministry which helps families adopt orphans with Down Syndrome. We adopted a little girl from Ukraine about 10 months ago and she has really blossomed in our family. Every December, Reece's Rainbow does an Angel Tree fundraiser. For $35 you sponsor an orphan for an adoption grant and in return you get an ornament with his/her picture, name and country. The child we adopted came with a $1,000 grant which really helped with some of our expenses. It is a wonderful program, and it's fun to have the ornaments with their pictures hanging on your tree. We sponsored several kids last year and gave them to the kids' teachers for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Lovely idea, Dawn.
We support our church's family - every year, the church adopts a family and buys gifts for all the kids, gift cards for the parents, etc.
We've had a family tradition for years of buying a new Christmas book for our collection. This year, I found Maya Angelou's poem "Amazing Peace" in an illustrated, children's book format. It includes a CD with the author reading the poem. We sat down and listened to it as a family. Such a lovely peaceful evening it made for us. It prompted my son to ask about previous years' books, so we collected them up and put them all in order. So many great books!

Brenda in SC

TnT's Mom said...

We have several charities that we donate to throughout the year but at Christmas time we do some other things as well. We usually do the Operation Christmas boxes but this year my boys each picked something out of the Samaritan's Purse catalog and the Heifer International catalog, that they wanted to give. My oldest picked soccer balls for kids and a flock of chicks. My youngest picked milk for children and also a flock of chicks. They helped pay for their choices with some of their saved money, as well. My oldest is in Cub Scouts and they are doing a Toys for Tots collection, so he helped buy a gift for that and my youngest also wanted to send a gift as well, even though he isn't a Cub Scout yet. We also put all our loose change from shopping in the Salvation Army kettles.

We have an Advent calendar that is actually a felt board so each day they add a piece of the nativity scene to the felt board.

If by chance I should randomly win the Macy's card, please just donate it wherever you think it is most needed.

Baby Daniel said...

We like to TRY to limit gifts by reminding the kids "It's Jesus' birthday, not yours."
Alas, this never works, really, as Grandparents then show up with bundle after bundle.
We also fill the Advent calendar with Bible verses (though we often forget to read them at the end of the busy day.)

sklay723 said...

My kids' birthday is this Saturday and they are turning three. Instead of gifts, we have asked everyone attending their birthday party on Sunday to bring a small, unwrapped toy. After the party we will box them all up and donate them to the local shelter for victims of abuse. All too often, people seek shelter from abuse and bring their children with them. We hope this in some way can help some of the kids who are going through so much emotional turmoil. The economy is terrible, budgets are tight, but we feel like now more than ever is the time when we should be focused on those less fortunate than ourselves. Thanks for sharing the info about Macy's!!!

Brenda said...

Each year we also do the Operation Christmas Child, and we also adopt a family and purchase their holiday gift items. Since I have boys, I always adopt families with girls so I finally get to go girl shopping!
We also give to all the toy drives, etc. that go on with church, get togethers, and to the food pantry that seems to be the lowest right now with this economy.
Good wil to all!

AlaneM said...

We read a lot of scripture & talk up how Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, NOT about Santa & getting stuff. We tell the kids how we give each other gifts to honor Jesus birth & celebrate him. We teach the kids about the real St Nick & let them know that Santa is just a man dressed up in a costume like at haloween. But we also tell them to pretend along with the other kids to make sure we don't ruin the magic for anyone else :)
I wish we could do Angel Tree &/or Christmas Child but our finances have not allowed for that for several years. I can't wait until next year when I can work & we might be able participate in these again - I have sorely missed it!

Holly said...

I enjoyed seeing all the different ways people are celebrating Christ's birth this year. We are doing the "What Does Christ Want for Christmas" stories and activities this year. it's been a lot of fun a great learning time for my daughter. We also have some gifts we are taking to the hospital she frequents for the kids there since we are fortunate enough to be home this year.

Anjie said...

This year my husband's work collected toys for Toys For Tots and my kids helped me pick out the toys we donated. I'm going to try to start doing that every year so my kids know how fortunate they are.

I forgot about Macy's donating $ for each letter they get, I think we will write letters to Santa tomorrow!

Tracy Fiebranz said...

My dad and I are members of the local Lions Club here in WI, and what we do is donate as a club and as a family to the local food pantry for Thanksgiving & Christmas. This year, because we practiced what we preached all year long, as a club and family, we were able to double our donation this year to help 200+ local families. We usually get other people involved as well and take a huge truck to the food pantry and then help them put it away and pack it up and deliver to families around the community. Because we donate 'as a club' when we deliver to the families, we make sure that we don't wear any insignia that identifies us as 'club members' as our family donation. (Did that make sense??) Also, something else we are doing is making several christmas gifts instead of buying them.

Happy Holidays!!! I think its cool what you are having your kids do too! That is awesome!

Anonymous said...

I home school, and we have started reading bible, mainly our archeological one, to our everyday school.

dhaynes said...

We have had a tradition that we started when my first grandson was born. We take them to the mall, have professional pictures taken of Nana, Papa, and grandkids together (and use this for Christmas cards), then the annual Santa picture and sitting on the lap thing, (except my oldest grandson is now "too" old to sit on his lap). We then have dinner and then go shopping for the kids "angels" that we have taken off our churches tree and the kids all buy a present that they would like to wrap and put under the Church's tree for under privilaged children. This has been a great Christmas project because they all look for something that they know will be a big hit and actually get totally into the giving aspect of it. The older ones also do the Samaritan's Purse and Operations Children through their schools and we all get involved in that as well. My youngest granddaughter's favorite Christmas decoration is the nativity scene, she loves it so much that last year I bought an inexpensive one for her and she wouldn't put it away with their other Christmas decorations but has played with it all year long! I like the idea of making a birthday cake for Jesus and I just might steal that idea from a previous reader. Have a great Christmas and thanks for all you do on your blog.
dianeH

Michelle said...

Oh what a great idea to share what everyone else is doing.

We've adopted two families. One is a woman born in 1933 that I did everything for. The other is a family with two children about the ages of the wee ones -- they've chosen much of the gifts for them and brought the boxes with me to church to drop off.

We also have an advent tree where there's a religious phrase ornament that goes on every day. That's teh first thing Mister Man does EVERY morning -- race downstairs to put on the new ornament. And it's so cute to see him sharing that duty with Little Miss.... :)

amerileira said...

We do several things. We do the Operation Christmas Child box -- 1 per kid (which is 1 boy & 1 girl). For advent, we do a Jesse Tree, for which I've made the ornaments out of sculpey clay. I love tracing the history of Jesus. We also have a railroad spike on the tree because it looks like what might have been used for nails on the cross. This reminds us of WHY Jesus came. We have a Playmobile nativity for the kids to play with too, and on Christmas day when we read in Luke about Christ's birth, the kids act it out with the Playmobile set. I've also made a Happy Birthday Jesus cake with all kinds of symbolism on it. I love Christmas! :)

Anonymous said...

I love that you are doing this!
My family is not buying anything for each other this year. Instead, we are donating our Christmas budget to Living Water International. It's an organization that helps bring clean drinking water to impoverished people all over the world.
They are at adventconspiracy.com if anyone is interested.
Thanks!

Amy W said...

Dawn, Our family also donated boxes to Operation Christmas Child as we have in the past years. We did 4 boxes this year, one for each of our boys. Also, to keep the focus on Christ, we pick out Jesus birthday plates and napkins for Christmas breakfast and before we let the kids go downstairs to open gifts, we sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and pray.

Amy W

Anonymous said...

Reading all the comments posted on your page has almost brought tears to my eyes. This christmas has been so busy for me. This has been my senior semester to a college that takes me an hour each day to get to, I'm a single mom, and I'm waiting tables to get by. Through all the struggle this season, I've forgotten how much people can do for others. I used to do the shoeboxes every year but for the last several years, I've failed to do so. My daughter is to young to write but we'll take a letter to the Macys santa anyway. These charities are things I want her to take joy in doing. I've grown up in a chirstian home and I want to pass these values onto the most important person in my life! Thank you for the reminder.

Elle said...

Dawn,
I don't feel like we've done nearly enough. You really realize the need out there when you stop to look.
We have been "buying" service from the youth in our church and then they are buying hats and coats for kids that need them.
My kids and I also went around to some thrift stores and bought the like-new shoes and are taking them to the Salvation Army tomorrow.
Like I said, there's always more to do! And I was humbled by some of the comments left. People are doing so much good!
~Elle

Anonymous said...

Every year for the last 18 years I've hosted a Christmas caroling party to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. I invite all my friends and family over, make a huge pot of soup and Christmas cookies. We eat, then bundle up and carol in my neighborhood. Then we return to my house and eat more soup, cookies, cider and all the goodies everyone brings. Our neighbors love it and we raise about $400 for the Ronald McDonald house. The funny thing is, I can't sing and my own carolers make me stand in the back of the group! It's a great deal of fun for a wonderful charity.
Peggy Day, Voorheesville, NY

BoufMom9 said...

Dawn,
I had no idea about macys and my SIL works there! Thanks for getting the word out.
This year I have been baking cookies each month for Operation Cookie bake (which is baking for our troops overseas).
I also got my kids involved in this when we found out about some of our blogging buddies whose spouses are indeed overseas, so the kids and i are also baking cookies for some of their families.

We try our best to always remember Christ, esp during this season, and teach the kids through His examples.

Blessings for your family this beautiful holiday season.
Love, Debi

ps And to also help others to feel inspired, I recently started a blog for people to share their faith and inspiration.

April M said...

A few weeks ago, my son lost his retainer. If you have never replaced a retainer, you are blessed! They cost $165. (Right before Christmas is not the time to lose a retainer, btw) I gave my son a choice, we would either take away his phone or he would skip getting Christmas gifts from his Dad and I. (He would still get from Grandma and his Aunt).
He decided to skip Christmas. When we went to the orthodontist to get the replacement, they told him he didn't really need it since he was scheduled to get braces in January. He thought he was going to get off scott-free. I told him that he had not shown us any responsiblility because he didn't take care of his retainer and even though I didn't have to buy a new one, he still needed to understand the consequences of what he had done. So, I told him that he was to take half of what I would have spent on a retainer and go pick a child off the Angel Tree at the mall and buy gifts for someone who wasn't going to get Christmas at all. He was happy to do that and he picked a 6 year old boy. This weekend my son purchased for this child a remote control car, some clothes and other items and personally delivered it to the folks from the Salvation Army.

After reading the other comments, I realize that this act won't impact many lives but I hope it impacts a 6 year old boy named Jo.

bonni said...

What a nice post. It really made me smile. :)

We're going to do the Angel Tree thing this weekend, but really, I don't like to keep my charity and/or volunteer work for a specific time of year. I'm a year-round regular donor to a very good Australian charity, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation (more info: http://www.amf.org.au/), plus I support WSPA (http://www.wspa.org.au/). I also support Guide Dogs Victoria (http://www.guidedogsvictoria.com.au/), just because I quite like dogs and it's a great cause (friends of the family raise/train guide dogs, so it's kind of personal).

Oh, and I drop money into collection tins and similar just whenever. If I have change and I see a "good cause" collection device, the money goes in. :)

The thing is, I don't like to really talk about this sort of thing. I feel like it's so much more meaningful if you keep quiet about how much you donate to charity. Jesus said something about that, as I recall... ;-)

Lynn J said...

We have made shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child at school and at church as well. This Christmas my daughter and I are making most of our gifts we are giving.This gives us time spent together with no interruptions. We also are going caroling with our extended family to some of the seniors at our church especially those who've lost a loved one this year. Thanks for everything!

babywoo said...

Dawn, I think this post is fantastic. I would like to share a very worthwhile organization here in Washington state. It is called the Elizabeth Gregory Home, which is transitional housing for single women. It is a great opportunity for homeless women to find permanent housing. They offer services to help women who have come from abusive situations and they often times get help to reunite them with their children. Elizabeth Gregory Home also has a drop in center to help keep homeless men and women off the streets during the day. They have access to computers, laundry facilities, and just a warm spot to land while they are awaiting a shelter to open up in the evening. Anybody out there who wants to help with donations to Elizabeth Gregory Home in Seattle, Washington, would help make a Merry Christmas to some women here in Seattle.
Thanks Dawn for the opportunity to let me spread the word of homelessness. If I win this gift card, it will definitely go to this nonprofit organizaiton.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was not raised Catholic, but married someone who was, Christmas for me is really not about Christ for my religion's teachings do not believe he was the savior. That being said, to me, Christmas is about family and friends joining together to be closer. To remember to be grateful for what you have, no matter how little it is.

Every year at work there is a Toys for Tots drive. The department where I work is a very diverse group of Catholics and non-Catholics and we all come together to make the holiday season special for some needy children. We collect money and purchase as many bicycles (with helmets) as we can and donate them to Toys For Tots. Last year we donated 9, we're hopeful again for this year.

Laura said...

We like to participate in the various adopt-a-family charities through church, school, and even my gym. We enjoy picking gifts out! I also like to do the shoebox for Operation Christmas Child ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,

My daughter and I volunteered at the Secret Santa warehouse. We helped put together packages of gifts for those in need. We also created 2 boxes for Samaritans purse. My work place had a tree from the Angel tree network, so we pulled a tag and provided gifts for a 7 year old girl. Next Saturday my daughter will stand outside a "major" store and ring the bell for the salvation army. I love that my daughter looks forward to doing these things each Christmas. Jenny F.

mariann (marinewife) said...

This year since we know times are hard for everyone and we live in a very small town in TN where poverty is an everyday thing,we have decided to buy little gifts for all the kids in our sons 1st grade class and we each took a name from the angel tree and fulfilled the wishes they had.We dont have any goodwill or salvation army stores near us and no where to really donate anything to so we find out who at our sons school needs things and we take it to the office and they let whoever needs the stuff come and get it.

Anonymous said...

When I started reading your post, I was so excited to tell you about the charity we chose to help this Christmas rather than exchanging gifts with the adults in my family. Of course, as I read further in your post, your family participated in the same Operation Christmas Child that we did!! I actually had more fun shopping for this than I would have for my brother, sister, or dad!! To help those in our community, we donated food to the local food pantry collected through the elementary/middle school.

Lori

Sara said...

My Bible Study group is adopting kids to provide presents for. My work is also adopting a family to give Christmas Dinner to.

I wanted to ask a SSO question: What's your opinion about telling little kids about Santa? I have been telling my 1 year old the basics, but I feel like I'm lying to her - which makes me feel awful.

Amanda said...

This year is tight for us, as it is for so many! I have 5 year old twins, and we have what we call "kids church". They attend while my husband and I are in service. They raised around $1200 for Clothe-A-Child. We have also donated to the Berean Home and for food baskets in our community. My kids know the reason for the season and are exicted to share Jesus' Birthday with everyone!

Korin C said...

My parents have asked in lieu of christmas presents to this year to make a donation to St. Jude's. My extended family is also working on sponsoring a family for Christmas.

Amanda E said...

I've been following a carepage of a family in PA. They don't have much of anything and have had a rough couple years. I am sending a box of goodies to them for Christmas so that they each have a little something this year.

Kelly said...

This year, my community food pantry is desperate for monetary and food donations...so I plan to take a few bags of groceries to the food pantry this Friday during the food drive.

Andrea said...

We are hearing from a lot of people that they are focusing on giving this season-- I hope it carries on to the rest of the year!

We are working with Volunteers of America this year and adopting families for Christmas... so far, our students have been really excited about helping other families out.

Do your kids get excited about picking out things/packing the boxes?

Great job!

Kirsten said...

As a single Mom I'm not able to adopt a whole family, but I did adopt an angel from the angel tree at our church. And my comapny has adopted a family, and I'll be donating a little something to that.

Jennifer said...

What a great post. Thank you for emphasizing the true meaning of Christmas. In the past our family has done Operation Christmas Child or Angel tree. Unfortunately we haven't done anything yet this year. I read about the Jesse tree on another blog which gives you a daily devotion during the advent season helping your children see how the entire Bible leads up the the birth of Christ and anticipates the coming Messiah. I would love to do this with my kids next year. (I would be starting too late this year.) We always skip emphasizing Santa and only give a few gifts to help alleviate the commercialism of Christmas in our house. Once again thanks for bringing up the true reason for the season.

Rhonda said...

Our family wraps a small, shiny present (lid separately) and sets it in front of the manger scene. Kids and adults and visitors alike can drop in coins or bills anytime in the month of December -- we call it our Gift for Jesus. The kids love dropping coins in there, and it makes it feel tangible to them, like it is really Jesus' birthday and he really gets a present! Then we take the box and put the whole thing in the offering on Christmas Eve, or find another cause that the kids want to give to.

Thanks for bringing this into focus Dawn, that Christmas is all about Jesus! :)

scarlett said...

I was just talking to my kids in the tub (they're a captive audience at bathtime!) about the meaning of Christmas last night. We made Advent wreaths at church and have been doing daily devotions together, while having our candles lit. We are also donating to Mel Trotter ministries to help feed the hungry. And the kids are each going to pick out a new toy to give to Toys for Tots. We try to do a little bit here and there all year long. As a whole, our family has been cutting back on the gifts - we don't need anything anyways - and just enjoying each other. What a wonderful, and less stressful, Christmas this is becoming!

Caroline from Memphis said...

Our family & extended family are doing something a little different this year. We live all over the south eastern US, so we rarely get together. The kids (ages ranging 4-17) have to earn extra money by helping their parents around the house. Then they are to spend this extra money earned on things that an older person would need. When we all get together at Grandpa's house a few days before Christmas, we are going to decorate shoeboxes and pack them with the goodies we got. THEN we're going to the local nursing home to sing carols, visit with less fortunate older people and give them the boxes. My s-i-l that lives there is making the arrangements with the nursing home. (getting names, needs, etc.) It should be a fun time as well as a learning experience for the kids. I'm excited because my kids are 4, 6, & 9 and they have very little experience with people over 65.

Virginia Grant said...

My son is in 5th grade and his boy scout troop (760 Lakeland, FL) adopted a family. The troop raised close to $400 and purchased clothes, toys & gifts for the family. They also were able to give the family a gift card to Payless for shoes and a gift card to the supermarket for food. Tonight they will be wrapping all the gifts they purchased.

Personally in my family each person is getting three gifts. My kids will tell you good enough for Jesus - good enough for me. It helps to keep cost down and it helps to highlight why we have Christmas.

Patois said...

I don't know that we're doing more this year than usual. We've got the toys to give to Santa when he comes to church to collect for needy kids. We gave the toys to the Rotary for the same deal. We're giving bags of groceries at church. The girl will be caroling at a nursing home.

It's not enough, I realize. It never is.

Mi said...

My family and I adopted a little boy named Kevin for the holidays. This was done with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. This program provides new clothes and toys for children. Kevin is a 3 year old in need of some holiday care. My family and I purchased him a winter coat, hat & glove set, a racing car, Elmo building blocks and 2 books. My son is 4 years old and we let him help us pick out these special things for Kevin. It was a great feeling to help and a wonderful lesson for our son to learn at such a young age. This was our first time doing something like this but we plan to do it every year.

mamaw said...

Our family has been eating by candlelight each night for dinner. It gives us time to reflect on the season and the spirit of Christmas, rather than how many presents Sally has sitting under the tree. It's given our family time to slow down and remember what we are doing here.

Mary G said...

We are adopting a migrant family through our church. We are also adopting a family through each of our children's classes at school. We will also sift through our children's toys and donate the gently used ones that they have outgrown and donate them to the Salvation Army, which has a residential facility here in Kansas City for children in transition to or from foster care.

If I win the gift care, I will give it to my wonderful neighbor who generously puts my son on the school bus for me 3 days a week and is watching him today because his school had a snow day but the one where I work did not. She is deserving of so much that I could never give to her!

CatholicGirl said...

Hey, Dawn! It's been amazing reading all these comments people are leaving! Imagine if we all did this throughout the year as well... I love that this special time of year brings out the best in people, though.

I wanted to share what I am doing with the family that I nanny for in order to make this season of Advent more meaningful. They have eight children, and this year we have decided to observe the Jesse Tree in an effort to connect the fact that Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. The kids are home schooled, so each morning, before we begin school, we add that day's ornament to the tree and read the corresponding scripture. I'm amazed by how much they are grasping and how much *I'm* getting out of this! It's been very important to me to help them understand the true meaning of this time of year. Last week I spent a good deal of time teaching them about St. Nicholas, the man, who lived in the 3rd century AD. We learned of his generosity and kindness to all, and that his love of Christ was what inspired him to live this way. Rather than writing letters to Santa (they'd already done that LAST month -they're very proactive munchkins...) they wrote to Baby Jesus, asking him to help those who were not as fortunate as they are. I must say that their requests touched my heart, and I caught myself welling up a few times. We have to teach our children to be compassionate and loving, doing this unit study on St. Nicholas helped them to understand the importance of possessing those two traits. It also showed me that "my kids" are capable of so much more than I give them credit for when it comes to recognizing the needs of others. I now look at them in a different light. We observed St. Nicholas Day on the 6th, and being kids, they are stoked that both St. Nicholas AND Santa will have visited them this year! I'm stoked that they are actually grasping the meaning behind all the lights, songs, and gifts.

God bless and have a wonderful Advent!

Anonymous said...

Hello Dawn,

We also do Operation Christmas Child in our house. We also "adopt" two children from our local area to help buy gifts for. Beyond that we, like you, have tried to focus more on Christ this year. We light an Advent candle each week and read scripture. Last Sunday we visited a couple of elderly people who can't make it out to church any more. My kids baked cookies and we took them in and visited for about 20 minutes in each house. It really made my kids realize how lucky we are to have people to depend on. One lady has no family left and depends on neighboors and our church family to help care for her. I pray that my children grow up to remember how important it is to GIVE, and not get!
Merry Christmas Dawn!!

Kim said...

I have done Operation Christmas Child for the past few years but because of work, I was unable to go to church and I missed the dead line. I loved doing it though. This year, we picked a few names off the church Christmas tree. The names were of worshipers at a Lutheran church located in Mexican border town. Also, my husband decided that this year, he didn't want any Christmas presents. Instead, he wanted money or gift donated to charity. I have picked up a bunch of toys to donate to Toys for Tots for him. We have been so blessed this year that it only makes sense to give back!
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
luvbabyjoey@yahoo.com

Amazing Racer said...

Our family tries to give to many organizations, not just at Christmas, but year round. One we do specifically at Christmastime is Toys for Tots. My husband's work sets up collection bins.
I find this to be a great one to do because of having a 6 year old and a 3 year old. We get things that they would like, and then give them away.
Another charitable organization I like is Compassion International. My daughter can write letters to our child in Africa, and she pretty much thinks that's the coolest!!!

Amy said...

My church is located in the inner city of Jackson, MS. Most churches have moved out of the "high crime" area, but mine has made a commitment to stay. We started a non-profit organization (based out of the church) for the kids in the neighborhood... there are Bible Clubs each Monday night... activities on Wednesday night... and many extra curricular activities (basketball, karate, summer camps, etc.) Every Thanksgiving, the families receive a turkey dinner. At Christmas, each child involved in the ministry receives a gift (picked just for them) and a stocking at the annual Christmas Party. It only costs $20 to "sponsor" a child which includes the gift, stocking, and pizza (at the party). If you are interested in sponsoring a child, you can go to www.hisheartforjackson.org for more information.

Thanks and Merry Christmas!
Amy

The Cohen's said...

First I must say... AMEN! I read so many blogs and not many of them really emphasize CHRIST mas. :)

We did Operation Christmas Child, which is something I intend to do every year and allow my children to help me with. Our bible study also "adopted" a single mom and her son in need of a Christmas. We will be spending more time in church than usual, reading from our bible, and just making sure that we make it about Christ and our families, not the gifts.

Anonymous said...

I am not the least bit religious and am most certainly not a believer at all in anything having to do with any religion BUT I do not judge those who do even though I am judged every single day because of my beliefs. I would just like to say that I do celebrate Christmas with family and friends out of respect for what they believe and I see it as a time of celebration of nature, family and love for those around me - a time for sharing and celebrating joy, happiness and even forgiveness for the way that we are the rest of the year. If someone wishes me a merry Christmas I say it right back to them because that makes them feel good inside and that is what matters most this season.

My husband and I are fortunate enough to be in a situation where we were able to adopt two families of five through our local fire hall and provide them with nice gifts, warm winter clothes and two weeks worth of food including a Christmas feast.

The joy that is Christmas isn't always about religion for everyone. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to know that you are doing some good for someone somewhere. And it just goes to prove that some of us non-believers are good people too.

Jess said...

While in years past we have been giving each family member a present we changed how we did that a few years ago.
Now we seek out a local family/person in need of some financial help. We only buy presents for the kids and use the money we would by for other family members to put toward that family.
We have doe multiple things like Toys for tots and the local food bank donations.
To emphasise Jesus' birth we have a toy nativity scene we play with and read books about the story of Jesus's birth.
We even have a book that incorporates Santa Claus into Jesus' birthday.

Jennifer from Hurricane said...

Our local shelter for battered women and their children had to close for a couple months this summer due to a lack of funding. Thankfully the community came through and they are open again. My women's group at church does the Christmas shoe box thing, but we keep it local. We make the boxes for the children that reside at this shelter. This year, with economic times like they are especially in our own church family, we have expanded the boxes to include the children in our church as well. Children don't understand the concept of "keep the heat on or get a present" and they shouldn't have to, so we are making sure that every child in our church (and the women's shelter) gets a PACKED full Christmas shoe box.

ctemommy said...

My family also participates in operation Christmas child. My kid's school collected Toys for Tots for the Marines. My mother in law also made 3 quilts for my kids to give away this season. For my littlest one who is 3, he is putting my extra change in every Salvation Army kettle we can find. If we can even do a little, then all of us doing a little will add up.

lynnkaste@hotmail.com said...

I also participated in Operation Christmas Child. My small group at church is adopting a family and going to leave the gifts on their front porch next week. Thanks for posting about this - Jesus is the reason we celebrate!

J Murray said...

Our church developed an "alternative gift" catalog for those who hate the idea of giving a gift the recipient may not like, and who want to make sure their gift really means something. It contains items as inexpensive as $8.50 for a bible for those in impoverished countries or $10 for mosquito nets to help prevent the spread of malaria...to larger amounts for supplies, etc. to make an immediate difference. That's made gift-giving fun again, especially when "shopping" for those who have everything & need nothing. Those opportunities are abundant if you just watch and ask through your local churches and civic groups. We've also committed to continue to support our church's missions financiall, though we're watching every penny at home. We've seen personally that when you continue to give from the heart, God will provide all you need! We're also saying "no" a little more, to those countless holiday events that are all nice but tend to leave us running from one place to another. Instead we're spending more time together as a family to focus on quiet time, time to talk about Advent lessons, etc. Back to the real Christmas!

Ruthie said...

My company is participating in the Salvation Army's Angel program and I picked the ornament of a 2 year old girl and have been having a wonderful time buying and creating for her. I will be posting on my blog later today with her gifts.

J Murray said...

Forgot the most important part...by saying "no" a little more to those stressful party events, that opens up more time for us to volunteer as a family where our kids can not only serve others, but get to know folks who are different from them and likely have different circumstances. I want our kids to understand that it's ok to give money and send gifts away, but that it's also important for us to reach out personally to people, to help them know they're just as much a child of God as we are. That connection opportunity is what makes this big world seem more real. We have several friends who take their kids on mission trips with them, to share in the experience together, with amazing results. We've committed to doing the same w/our kids. They're actually dying to go with us already to Mississippi to help w/Katrina recovery efforts still going on! Kids really can "get it" if we expose them to the true spirit of Christmas early on.

The Bertone's said...

Sadly this year, due to moving... we barely have the money for our own Christmas... So we weren't able to buy presents for children less fortunate than us, like we usually do. Our donate our old toys to charity...(cause they are still in boxes in Maine, and we are in Florida) So, I think it is wonderful what Macy's & you are doing this season. We have tried to give money to the Salvation Army every time we see a donation can, and we made homemade Christmas cards for people in the hospital! So, thank you for the Opportunity.
Merry Christmas!

bre in az said...

every year we have our son pick an child of the angel tree to sponser. we then go to the store and purchase what the child has requested and return it to the angel tree. it is important for kids to realize that christmas is about giving and not receiveing.

Emily and Tom said...

We participate in Sub for Santa every year. We get to buy presents for a family in need. Then we wrap the presents and drop them off at

For our own family, we act out the nativity every Christmas Eve. The kids dress the parts and my husband reads the story from the Bible. It helps us all remember the real reason from the season.

Emily

Sylvia said...

I too got our letters to the mail box, the make a wish foundation is great. Finacially im not able to donate other than the dollar here and there at stores for say st judes or feed the children. I voleenter my free time to working with children. To me christmas is about family and spending time together and especially in the hard times of this year its extra special and Im glad to have the thankful and caring son that I do. Seeing our situation my son came to me and said "mom its ok that we are not going to have presents this year all I need or want is you" and with those words and the hug I know we are going to have the best Christmas ever. Wishing you and your family the best

PaperAddictJenn said...

We always participate in Operation Christmas Child and talk about the child that might receive our box. This year we put out our nativity before we got the tree out. To me that made it more special since it was our first Christmas decoration to be put out. When we put the decorations on the tree we talk about each ornament. My boys (ages 6 & 2) love seeing the ornaments my husband made as a child!

jlarsonrn said...

My favorite charity is the local Crisis Pregnancy Center. They counsel women facing an unplanned pregnancy as well as provide resources no matter the decision. I was privileged to work there as Nurse Manager for 3 years.

Tina K said...

Last week I heard that Toys for Tots and a local tv news program were collecting toys at a Walmart near our home, so on a whim (because they were only collecting until 7 and I heard about it on the news at 5) we took our two girls ages 19 months and 4 1/2 to toys r us and let them pick out any toys they wanted to give to another kid. We left with a cart FULL of toys and dropped them off to the marines who were collecting outside of the walmart. I have to say we felt so great afterwards and although my youngest doesn't understand my 4 year old really was excited to GIVE to another little kid who might not get visited by Santa this year.

Lisa said...

This year is the first time I heard of the of Operation Christmas Child. I wanted to do more than one, but this is a tough year. Our church was a collection spot for it. I want to help out next year. I went to the website and sat here crying as I watched the videos of them giving the boxes to children in need and I said to my husband if they showed one of them a week during the service leeding up to the collection week they would get more. We collected 1900+ boxes this year. On Friday we are having an outreach at our church for homeless and people of need in our area. We invite them to a wonderful evening starting with apple cider in the lobby of our church. Then they have dinner. After that they watch a musical. At the end they get a presant to take home. I did it last year and I think I get more out of it than them. To see the joy in there faces when they watch the Christmas musical and get presants and have a nice dinner together. You really get to see God at work. I left last year with a wonderful feeling. I will be a greeter and I will be serving apple cider. My husband is playing drums and my 8yr old daughter is singing. My other two kids will be with Poppop because they are 5 and 2

Virginia said...

My family and I send 1 shoebox per child for Operation Christmas Child.

We also spend time together each evening around our family advent calendar. Each night, one person gets to add one more day to the calendar-the days are little ornaments to hang on a Christmas tree. My husband and I explain the significance of each ornament, relating to Jesus Christ, especially His birth, in some way. We then pray and thank God for His ultimate gift.

Routhless Family said...

This will be our first Christmas together, and I have been trying to think of a tradition for us to start. Thanks to your wonderful blog and readers I have no doubt in my mind what that tradition will be now. We've decided to donate to the Shriners Hospital for Children. We will make our donation in honor of my gramp's who passed away earlier this year. I know that this year will be especial difficult for my family without him here with us, but I can't think of a better way to honor and remember him. I have to admit that if I didn't read your blog, I would have never thought of donating, so thank you! Have a Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

We're helping with some gifts for an angel tree at church. We chose a boy and a girl near our kids' ages, and we're going to let them participate in picking out the gifts, wrapping, etc. Also through my church, I donated a small gift to Meals of Wheels so the elderly people they serve meals to will get a small gift along with their meal near Christmas.

We also focus strongly on the Savior during the Christmas season and teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas. We have a Fisher Price Nativity set that our kids love to play with at this time of year. One of our traditions is to sing a song from our church's Children's Songbook that mentions the star, stable, shepherds, wise men, animals, manger, angel, Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. As we sing about each one, the kids take turns placing them in the nativity. If anyone is interested, you can find the song by going to www.lds.org/churchmusic. Click on "music," then "children's songbook," and then search for "The Nativity Song" under "find a song."

Merry Christmas, everyone! By the way, I wouldn't be offended if someone wished me "Happy Hanukkah" this month, even though I'm a Christian.

Lu (Lucille) said...

I actually have started a business that is giving towards a charity that is VERY dear to me. Perhaps your readers have seen the news reports of the neglect and mistreatment of orphans in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world. These lovely children are discarded at birth due to disabilities, most of them with Down's Syndrome. If these children are not adopted by the age of 4 or 5 they are institutionalised where they are usually unable to be adopted and roughly 85% die within the first year and most of the others never live to see their 10th birthday. They are left untouched and unloved (God loves them though!) to lie in their own waste - many strapped to their cots!

Reece's Rainbow is a Christian Adoption Grant Ministry that is helping these children find families. One way they help is through people's donations to their Angel Tree Project. All of the children on their site and all of the families adopting can be donated towards the costs of the adoption, which is roughly $15,000 (dependant upon the country). www.reecesrainbow.org

I have also begun a business which donates towards Reece's Rainbow. We make bespoke images of your favourite photo (we also nave note paper and Mommy / Mummy cards and personalised calendars) and then send it to you on the canvas size of your choice (or if you'd like you can just get the artwork digitally sent to you for less to use or save for printing on canvas at a later date).

My business is Poppies Blooming http://poppiesblooming.blogspot.com.

Thank you, Jon for letting us share on here!

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." (James 1:27)


Also, readers can 'Put a Poppy on their Blog'. Scroll down on the sidebar!

Also, I have a Bloggy Giveaway until MONDAY at http://thepoppiesblog.blogspot

Remember these kids are THE LEAST OF THESE! Matthew 25

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves...defend the rights of the needy." (Proverbs 31:8,9)

amy said...

Every year I will take at least one star on our local foster kid tree and buy a present for him/her. I always do one but try to do as many as our budget will allow. I love getting gifts for little ones who will probably never know me, just that someone is wishing them well. :)
And since the kids have been born, I am trying to freecycle their old nice toys to little ones who need something under the tree!
Hopefully, when the kids get a little older we can do something more involved in the community.

zekesmom10 said...

We are sharing an adopted family with a few other people and donated to St. Jude's. The Christmas shoeboxes completely slipped my mind this year. Thanks for letting us know we can send them in at any time!

Kate said...

My family decided to participate in the Adopt a Family program through our church. Also, instead of getting all of the grandkids gifts we are having them pick out items on the Oxfam America Unwrapped site to send to those who are in need of basic supplies around the world. We thought it was a good idea to show that Christmas isn't all about presents and is more about the teachings we learn in church.

Anonymous said...

Instead of gifts for my birthday in October I had a shoebox party and invited friends to bring a shoebox and items to put in it for people in a poorer part of the world. (Like Operation Christmas Child but run by a British charity called Blythswood.)

At work I'll be donating to the collection of toys for children who might not get much/anything and a collection of non-perishable goods for families who are struggling.

We sent a card and small gift to our sponsored child in Bolivia.

At church I've bought a poinsettia which will go to a housebound person, and I've got hats and gloves to go under the church tree, which are then given to homeless people in Edinburgh.

And I'm looking forward to seeing my 3 year old daughter as an angel in the nativity play at church.

Anonymous said...

Our family is scaling way back on our gift giving to each other. We've never been an "over the top" present family anyway but this year even less.

We are "adopting" 2 families in our church who have had health and work issues. We are putting together boxes of food for baking, turkeys etc and gift cards to the local grocery store to help lighten their load. We have purchased extra with our groceries for many weeks now to be able to help them.

We are hoping also to be able to help with some extra money if the Lord provides.

It has been so much fun and a blessing already just getting it all prepared for them. We will deliver the boxes the Saturday before Christmas so they will have time to do the extra shopping and cooking in time for Christmas.

Kelly E.

jennie g said...

This year my 2 1/2 yr old and myself made cinnamon/applesauce ornaments for our family members instead of buying huge gifts. It is really our only option.

JL of Boston said...

Dawn,

I always enjoy reading your blog which I discovered a month or two ago, but I've never posted before. I wanted to participate this time as my friends and I have changed our thinking this year! A friend of mine gathered us all together and we went shopping for a pink bike, barbie helmet and training wheels for a little girl in the Boston area who just got moved away from her family into foster care. I must say that since we've never met or seen this girl it was very hard to figure out her size, but there were lots of wonderfully helpful parents who lent us their kids to try out the bikes so we could decide. A big thanks to all of them!

I'm also going to a holiday party on Saturday where you get assigned a person and you must bring at least one of their gifts to the party. I'm also bringing some extra people with me so we got assigned a family of 4. A mom, twin 6-year old girls and a boy of 8. It was so much more fun shopping with my friends for this family than exchanging and it does feel like we're making a tiny bit of difference. We're all pretty new to the workforce so we don't make too much, but this has been a great way to feel connected this season!

Sherry said...

We also participated in Operation Christmas Child this year and we also collected several pairs of shoes for a mission that gives shoes to children in many countries.

rebecca said...

We sponsored a child with World Vision and the kids really enjoy picking out toys for the local drive each year.

Jennifer in Wisconsin said...

We have donated toys/clothes to the church for their programs, donated to the Send a Troop to the movies program, donated to the Toys for Tots at our company christmas party, and food to a local homeless shelter that is completely run by volunteers who have been there themselves. The biggest lesson for my kids is the letting go of toys that they would love to have. I am trying to teach them that there are kids who do not get any toys and that it is nice to give to those who do not have much. I hope this giving of ourselves can extend to beyond the holiday seasons.

Melissa said...

We did Operation Christmas Child again this year. My oldest is just about to hit 3 so this was the first year we could talk to her about it with her actually understanding most of it. She picked out a lot of the stuff that went into the box. Hopefully some of it made sense to her. Thanks Dawn for sharing and spreading around the true meaning of Christmas.

Larisa said...

Since our grandparents don't need any more soap or lotion, we bought them ducks, chickens, mosquito net, soccer balls, clothes and seeds via World Vision's Gift Catalog. Several families will now be blessed with food, safety, and a sustainable income in their honor.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dawn! Every year we adopt a family to help during the holidays. It is a group effort between a group of moms I talk to a lot. They helped me about 3 years ago and this year I am heading the Adopt a family up. We have $150 so far and a great family we are helping. They are facing for-closure on their house and she is still grateful for what she has. That is what it's all about.

Carla

luwanna3 said...

We have an advent listing a scripture and a quality of the Savior that we should follow for each day. It has been fun to talk about the qualities of the Savior and how we can follow his example and be better people. :)

Jenn said...

Every year we take two kids off the Salvation Army Angel tree and buy gifts for them. We started when we lost our first baby and started taking two kids when we lost our second. So we buy for our angels. Now that we finally have two living kids, we still take two and try to pick kids close to their age so they can help. They are only two right now, so they don't get it, but they will one day.

Anonymous said...

This year, my family is helping out with food/toy drives for our church. It really makes us put our life into perspective. Thanks so much for giving away the gift card!
Amanda R. from WA

kymomma said...

Instead of spending on my side of the family (parents, brothers and wives, etc) we're all donating our money to World Vision. You can pick out what you'd like to purchase for a needy family in a third world country. We've done this before. My brother actually 'bought' two ducks for my daughter's birthday this year. Of course she doesn't get the ducks but a needy family that could raise ducklings for food/eggs gets them in her honor. She turned 9 and was tickled pink about that. Now we're deciding on buying some goats or digging a well for an entire village. It's truly fun and the children get excited taking part in making a difference. Thanks for the opportunity to share!! Have a wonderful CHRISTmas.

Jen said...

I've already posted a comment under this post but I decided on another charitable contribution. This year I am going to try as hard as possible to not throw things at my husband. Does that count?

candi said...

This year, instead of exchanging gifts with family across the country, we're taking that money and using to help those less fortunate closer to home. One of our chosen charities is Newborns In Need which helps with the material needs of newborn and premature infants in crisis, whether it be a health situation or a financial one. We're also donating generously to Toys for Tots to help make sure a few more children have a brighter Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I already posted but I wanted to say two more things for ideas for others. Last year a friend of mine sold copies of her daughter's paintings (who is in heaven) for $15 a piece. Then they used the money to put together Christmas packages for the kids in the hospital where her daughter spent so much time before passing away at 6. I think they raised over a $1000.

I thought about raising money for something similar but didn't get it together in time but think I will shoot for next year. We all know people who sell things for their personal business (candles, tupperware, jewlery, kitchen stuff, baskets, make-up, and etc.) I thought of asking these friends to donate a percentage of their profit if I offered to host a open house Christmas boutique. Then we could donate to a needy family or kids who spend their Christams in the hospital. I really hope to be able to do this. People get to buy Christmas presents while helping a worthy cause, we're supporting someone's business, and someone less fortunate will have a better Christmas.

Liz's Random Thoughts said...

My church participates in OCC every year now. Its a really fun thing to do, and you are helping out kids in different countries who maybe aren't allowed to have what we in the US call a 'normal' childhood.

Anonymous said...

We adopt a family at church every year and this year we bought gifts for an 8 year old boy. Do you know what he wanted? Shoes. That just broke my heart, and it made my 4 kids feel really good to go out and buy him a few pairs. We also forgo adult gifts, and donate what we would have spent instead to Mayan Families, a group that helps indigenous people in Guatemala- where our youngest son is from. Helps us to all remember that it truly is better to give than to receive.

Kelly M in MA
www.customlifebooks.com

Tom in Iowa said...

My friend Rhonda and I have joined together and have formed our own group called Family Sponsoring Families. We raise money from friends and family and collect donations and/or gift cards from local companies to give to needy families. We are both board members for a local non-profit organization called AIDS Project Quad Cites (APQC) and this year we have changed it up a little bit by joining forces with them. We've sort of worked together the last couple of years but this year we have fully joined forces to work together to do this. The families we sponsor are ones who sort of slip through the cracks because they don't meet certain guidelines for other charities or have had a recent misfortune and didn't have time to fill out paperwork for other charities. This year we have more kids but it actually looks like we will still be able to fulfill all the wishes with the wonderful support of all of our families, friends and the wonderful companies that help us out. I sort of hate to give away our leads but I also want to be sure they get the recognition they deserve. In all the years we have been doing this one of our biggest supporters has been Blain's Farm & Fleet - each year they give us $500 worth of toys! They are wonderful. This year we were also blessed by being in the right place at the right time and were able to apply and receive a $500 grant from Sam's Club. Those were the big ones but we have received so much from everyone. Another really special thing that has happened this year is we have had friends who have donated more because they knew that there would be others who couldn't help as much because of the economy! People really amaze me and we are blessed by having such wonderful people in our lives.

Have a very Merry Christmas and Best Wishes to everyone for a wonderful New Year!!

Mandy said...

For a couple years now, we've given our kids only 4 presents each. One is a "Santa" present, just something fun, the rest represent the 3 gifts Jesus got, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The "Gold" gift is a big gift, "Frankincense" is an incense used in the temple, so this gift is something spiritual, and Myrrh is for the body, so this could be anything from bubble bath to new clothes.

This year we didn't get a tree, we're making a full size paper mache tree so we can do it as a family. My goal is to mix things up just enough to not lose ourselves in tradition...but not so much that we are focused on not being traditional!

Wendy said...

I'm Jewish, my husband is an agnostic. We are children of Catholic, Lutheran, Presbeterian & Jewish heritage.

We have a friend who's beautiful, 8-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with cervical cancer. We are making sure that this little girl has plenty of things to keep her distracted and build up the fight in her. She's getting DVD's galore to watch while she's in treatment, and for when she's not feeling well enough to head to school. We are also picking up a few things so that she has Christmas presents to give to her little brother and her big sister, who is being fostered-to-adoption.

Step Monster said...

You know I actually haven't sat down and thought about it. We are one of the fmailies who do need donations (haven't asked for them but know we need them) so I haven't thought about how I can help. I know there are so many ways to help without money..donating your time...but a mother of three working two jobs I don't have time. The local schools here always adopt fmailies to help donate gifts. I am the coach of the cheerleading team and we are hosting a bowling fundraiser to purchase or needs for the season. I think that if we have money left over after purchasing our items we will donate the remaining money to the cause....

Patty said...

My team at work adopted a family for Christmas, not just the kids, but the mom and dad also. It's the spirit of giving that inspired us to think of others that have so little and to imagine their faces full of joy on Christmas just warms my heart and soul.

Hope you and yours have a blessed Christmas and healthy Happy New Year! =)

Kristi said...

I am really trying to teach my children about giving and gratitude. This year we donated stuff to the food drive at school, shopped for toys and clothes for two needy girls at school, and bought hats and mittens for a giving tree. I took them with me when we shopped and they helped pick stuff out. We are focusing on the spirit of giving and talking about ways Jesus would want us to celebrate his birth. They have really gotten into it. I think we will try the Good Samaritan's Purse next year and make this a tradition! They also each took a portion of change out of their piggy banks and dropped it in one of the Salvation Army kettles (one coin at a time of course!).

Nikki Koon said...

Every year we take some names off local christmas trees and buy presents for those less fortunate than us. This year, we are asking the children to help us to make more meaningful presents for one another and others, as opposed to buying things. It's been fun to watch them shift their christmas lists to things that can be made from the commercialized ones from last year. The money we save from doing this is going to be donated to Autism research and treatment.

Anonymous said...

I'm doing a LOT of baking this year to help cut expenses and to get us back to "basics".

Our department at the university I work for adopts needy families from a grade school that is close by. This grade school is mostly low income and the university does a lot with the school throughout the year. We don't buy for each other - just for the families. I am the one that organizes things and I collect the money and then I get to spend it! It's great fun to spend other people's money - but it's even more fun to know that you've made what would be a horrible Christmas bright for at least a couple of families. This year we have a six year old boy who's mother died last January and Dad is doing all he can to keep him and his son together. The little boy has only asked for Tinkertoys. Makes me realize how lucky I am!

Dawnett W.

becky said...

well, I feel a little backwards in what we're doing. But my oldest is now 2.5 and we're doing Santa for the first time. Every year our church participates in Operation Christmas child and has a Fall Festival that's like an indoor carnival. The kids can choose to redeem their tickets for prizes for themselves and to get toys to put in shoeboxes located across the hall from the prize room. It's so touching every year to see how sacrificial kids can be. Their only complaint, even from kids new to it each year, is that the boxes aren't big enough for some of the toys they'd like to give. Our daughter got to participate this year! Anyway, I'm excited to her to experience the wonder of the season. I'm not into all of the commercial aspects of the season. We aren't putting up a tree because we'll be spending the week at my mom's house. but we've already started talking about the excitement of Jesus' birthday party and Santa joins in to help all the boys and girls celebrate, etc...

Kelly M. in Texas said...

We practice advent every night the month before Christmas - reading the Bible, singing some Christmas carols, and praying. It helps us stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas admist the hustle and bustle of things around us. We love this tradition!!

Kyra said...

I love the program that we have here called Gift for God's Children. Some of the children even ask for a Bible which of course thrills everybody. I love to stuff the box with their needs and extra cool stuff too.

Nickalli said...

What an awesome way to share CHRISTmas with everyone! As a family we always do Operation Christmas Child, at least two boxes. We have a compassion child we sponsor and love re-reading the letters we've received all year long. We also sponsor K-LOVE! Individually we each have our own missions as well. I'm a MOPS coordinator and always participate in Angel Tree (presents for kids who's parent is incarcerated), and anything else I can handle. My hubby is in the Air Force and has tons of opportunities to give back to our community through that. Thanks for this inspirational post!! Merry Christmas everyone!!

amy said...

What an encouraging post! We, too, have been working on instilling the true meaning of the season with our three kids. This year, we did Operation Christmas Child. I organized it for my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group here in Virginia, and our group of 20 moms put together 67 boxes! We didn't have the money for shipping, but God provided EVERY PENNY we needed (and even a little extra!). It was an amazing, faith-building experience. We've also got an advent calendar that builds the Nativity scene each day, ending with Baby Jesus on the 24th. Our small group for church has adopted a single mother and her two small children for the holidays. We took them a car load of food just before Thanksgiving, and we're stuffing oversized stockings for all three of them for Christmas. My own children are so excited to be shopping for these children they've never even met. We always participate in Toys for Tots and Angel Tree. My kiddos get the biggest kick of out picking out those toys. Money really IS tight this year, but we've still managed to squeeze out enough from our budget to still participate in our holiday giving opportunities. Thanks for focusing on the TRUE meaning of this season!!!

Missy said...

I am going to bake a birthday cake for Jesus. I'll let the kids decorate it (who knows what it'll look like!) but we can sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and be reminded of the real reason for Christmas.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

This year we did adopt a less fortunate family through the Woodridge Food Pantry. I specifically requested a family with children the same ages/sexes of my kids if they had a family as such. They did. My kids helped choose and wrap the gifts. My kids decorated stockings for their kids. We talked A LOT about this family; we've prayed for the kids at church and at home. We know their names and their ages, but that's about it. It's brought our family closer discussing how other families need more and we are happy to be doing something for others this year.

ALso, through our church, we have a program called Advent Conspiracy where everyone who wants to can scale down on their gift-giving and money not spent is given to the church to go toward the building of wells in countries where they do not have fresh water. So these are where our giving efforts are going this Christmas, and really, we've not considered doing this as seriously as we have this year, and it's a very good feeling, and I think it's bringing our family closer!

megan said...

I've been reading your blog since the pokeman listing was still on ebay! This is the first time I've commented...(I know you hear that all the time!) Anyway, I have been very interested in volunteering lately, and I have emailed 10 or so different places to get involved, but haven't hardly gotten any responses...! How sad is that? I am 23, and living at home (again) lol and I suggested to my mother that we (my mother, step father, and 2 younger brothers, and myself) all go through our things and donate what we no longer need or use, and also we are going to "try" to find a place to go volunteer on Christmas day! My gram and papaw come over on christmas morning and we read about the day Christ was born from the bible before any gifts are opened. Somehow, it really makes a difference on the insight of the rest of the day, for me anyway! I'm pretty sure my 10 year old and 3 year old little brothers are tearing into the presents as they normally would :)

Candi said...

Our church presents a Christmas program for the community that runs nightly Wed. thru Sunday with a Saturday Matinee the first full week of December each year. I live within hollering distance so I try to go evey night, but had to bow out of 2 shows this year. I'm just one of some 2-3 dozen salvation workers who encourage those who receive Christ during the invitation portion of the program. Many of these few dozen workers will spend some time contacting those who desire follow up from now through March, helping them become integrated into the church and this new path they've chosen, by answering their questions, introducing them to the resources available to meet their needs, praying with and for them, and all in all, just becoming their friends in Christ. It's my favorite part of the Christmas season.

Anonymous said...

for christmas, my co-workers & i select someone in the community to give to (in lieu of giving gifts to each other).

Jill in CA said...

I'm catching up on your blog, but I really like the idea of having people share what they're doing to be "Christ-like" this Christmas. I am the adopt-a-family chair for the PTA at my son's school, so in addition to the items our family bought to go towards families I also helped coordinate the whole process and arrange deliveries (and did some of the driving). It was a huge blessing to be able to feel like I was truly making a different for someone, especially the mom of 6 kids who was so overwhelmed. It was my third year helping with the program, and I am already thinking about ways to expand my efforts for next year.

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