Giving at Christmas
The true meaning of Christmas often seems to get lost behind all of the glitz, glamor and gifts now associated with the holiday. There are so many “things” to get and “stuff” to do that sometimes I forget to stop and enjoy the season. One of the ways I stop and enjoy the season is by giving back. When you live on a budget as it is, it can sometimes be overwhelming when I see all of the donation boxes, charity booths, and the constant emails and mail I get asking for aid. I truly wish I could simply whip out my checkbook at this time of year and give to all those in need. Since I can’t, my family has come up with a way to not be overwhelmed with the getting or the giving around the holidays.
Getting. First, no junk. We try to bake, make, create, and give each other gifts from the heart and items that we actually need. We also try to set a budget for each year so we all don’t go overboard.
Giving. We have found that instead of going crazy and giving what we can’t during the holidays, we collect things all year and donate items at Christmas. We usually pick one or two local charities each year and then spend the year gathering items that they need and then we bring the items as a family to the drop off location. This year we wanted to give back to our furry friends in need. Back in March we selected our local animal shelter as our place to give back to.
For the animal shelter we spent the last 9 months collecting dog and cat food, toys, treats, and other items like paper towels and warm blankets. Every time we went to our local discount store we would toss a few cans into our cart. The animals don’t seem to mind the cheaper dented cans and it helped that we could buy 3 or 4 cans for the price of one at regular retail stores.
We have been doing this for a few years now and we have discovered that this works well for all involved. In the case of these animals, they don’t care how much we spent, so much as what we can give them. In other words, if we were to write a check it wouldn’t nearly cover what we were able to purchase throughout the year at discount stores, on sale, or through the added donations of friends (ie: one friend bought a bunch of canned food that her dog didn’t like and as it was an opened pack, she couldn’t return it so she added it to our box of donations). By doing this collecting, we were able to give more than we could normally and have fun collecting things throughout the year.
Other ways we try to give back may be small but are things we do daily that in the end, hopefully help others. We eat yogurt almost daily at our house. When the stores are selling all of the pink lid yogurt we simply purchase those with pink lids and then send them in all at once in early December.
Small acts of kindness throughout the year help to keep things in perspective and also make our giving a large part of our family Christmas celebration. This is something that we really enjoy doing and something we will continue to do each year.