Tag Archives: holiday
For as long as I can remember my parents encouraged me to give. When I was very young, my brothers and I collected all our change and donated it to Jerry Lewis’ kids. We weren’t really sure how the money would be used, but we felt sorry for the little children we saw on the telethon and wanted to help.
When I was a teenager, my mom volunteered at a pro-life support clinic and we donated the clothes we’d outgrown to the families who used the facility. One day I saw a girl I knew at school, wearing one of the outfits I had donated. It looked good on her and she seemed happy wearing it. That was when I realized that giving wasn’t an abstract concept – it made a difference in the lives of real people.
There are many instances in holy books where believers are admonished to be generous to others. Proverbs 14:21 reads:
Those who despise their neighbors are sinners,
but happy are those who are kind to the poor.
And here is a verse from the Quran:
The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (9:71)
When I became an adult I did as much as I could to give – volunteering time, “adopting” a child, packing and delivering Christmas baskets – I never had much money, but I wanted to share with others out of what I did have.
By the time I had children, our church had started an Alternative Gift Market. After services, during Advent, we could choose from fair-trade gifts, or purchase items from a catalog, such as providing mosquito nets to protect children from malaria, or buying a window for a house built by Habitat for Humanity. We could give the gift in honor of a loved one, and that person would receive a Christmas card detailing the gift sent on their behalf. My kids loved saving their allowance and picking out a special gift – a flock of chicks in honor of grandma, or roof shingles in honor of their uncle.
This year, Compassion International is giving all of us the opportunity to donate to families in need through their Christmas Gift Catalog. Our family will be donating to provide garden seeds for families in Africa in honor of our family members (if you are a family member -sorry to blow the surprise
Click the link above to check out the catalog and let me know –
what can you give this holiday season?
So if you’re reading this on the day it posts, it’s 2 days before Christmas and I am furiously baking, wrapping and (some embarrassment here) decorating. Truth be told, I may not even be done shopping. We have two parties and church tomorrow, church and relatives on Sunday, a trip to visit relatives next week, not to mention work and a house in short sell. It would be very easy for me to give up and go back to bed (believe me, I thought about it).
I can blame a lot of my stress on poor planning and a lack of funds until the last minute. It’s possible that better planning and (hopefully) more stable finances might help next year, but how do I keep my sanity and not lose my cool in the here and now? The following is a list of tips I have gleaned over the years to make things a little easier at the last minute. If you are stressed and overwhelmed this holiday season, I hope some of these will work for you too.
- Make a list of everything you need to get done. Be general – buy presents, wrap presents, decorate living room, bake cookies, etc.
- Next, on a separate sheet of paper, Word doc, Task List or whatever you use, break down the individual jobs. For buying and wrapping presents, I use the Master Gift List at Organized Christmas:
- If you are decorating, list the rooms you need to decorate and what boxes you need to take out of storage. For baking, list which goodies you’re going to make, then break them down by ingredients.
- Next make a shopping list based on your ingredients list and gifts list. Be realistic – you’re probably not going to be able to spend as much money as if you had spaced the buying out throughout the year, but you can still get everyone something they will appreciate. And if they like goodies – even easier since you are already baking. (Sorry, family and friends – now most of you know what you’re getting from me).
- Make a timeline. With two days left I am spending today baking, wrapping and decorating and tomorrow I will be buying any presents that are left and finishing wrapping. I like to really break down the timeline on my baking so nothing gets missed. Here’s an example of my baking timeline:
- Enlist the help of your loved ones. Delegate what you can. Art is a much better wrapper than me, so I will let him do most of that. The boys like to decorate, so I will let them put up some garland and lights.
- Lastly, make sure to take some time to relax and take care of yourself. In the morning, I will do my devotions, pray, and exercise before I start my baking timeline. In the evening I will hang out with Art and the boys and watch some TV while we wrap presents. Later on I will go to bed early and read a good book by myself.
Hopefully I can follow my plan and enjoy the holidays this year, even with the extra stress.