‘Tis the Season for Charitable Giving

It is finally December. Around here, we've been in holiday mode since the day after Thanksgiving. But for some people, Christmastime doesn't begin until December. Either way – it is here. "The most wonderful time of the year." 

For me, it often also turns into the "most emotional time of the year." More love, more laughing, more fun but also more stress, more anxiety and more sadness. Most commercials make me cry and the voice inside my head is louder than usual, shouting at me to "do something for someone else. Now." 

We are very fortunate but we try to keep Christmas on the small side. Partially because these tiny humans do not need anything and partially because their birthdays happen so soon after Christmas. But still – they are spoiled, by us and our families. They get new things that they have asked for, and they always get more than they need. Don't we all, in this family?

Each time I pick up a little something for my kids, a nagging voice in the back of my head wonders "what if I couldn't afford this? What if we couldn't afford anything for the children at all? What if instead of this being "the most wonderful time of the year", it felt like the worst because I didn't have enough money for food for a holiday dinner or heat during the winter months, nevermind enough left over to put presents under the tree?"

Luckily, each year around this time, everything begins blowing up with charitable giving opportunities. We try to help, to do what we can, but there is always more that can be done. Especially now that the kids are at an age where they are more aware of the world around them, I want to focus on teaching the kids to give back. At the holidays, especially, but all the time. 

Some of the things we have done in the past around holiday charitable giving include:

  • Salvation Army: Such a simple one, but I try to make sure to carry cash at this time of year so that the kids can drop money into the red bucket. It doesn't have to be much – I know they appreciate every bit, and it reinforces the messages about charitable giving and teaching the kids to give back in a way they can actually see.
  • Supporting a Family: Every year since I was pregnant with T, we get the gender and ages of all the members of a particular family through DHS who could use a little help. It is the most fun when the kids are of ages that my kids can identify with because then I let them choose the gifts. 
  • Donating Gently Used Items: We usually do this in the fall – we go through our toys, books and clothes and round up things that another child would enjoy more than the kids are enjoying it. 
  • Gift Card Exchange: Last year a couple of my favorite blogs set up holiday charitable giving programs based solely on the honor system. If you needed help, you asked. If you could help, you said so. And these mommy bloggers worked day and night through the whole month pairing the "need help"s with the "can help"s. 

It is important to me that our tiny humans realize how lucky they are that there is food on the table at every meal (and what seems like every hour in between as well) and that they have a home to live in that is safe and warm. Not to mention the overabundance with which they live every day. It seems like the best way to teach the kids to give back is to practice charitable giving throughout the year but especially around the holidays. What we can afford to give may not be a lot, but I hope it feels like something to whoever receives it.

Now I have some "can help" emails to send.

 

Being Here (Gratitude, Final Days)

Thanksgiving has come and gone. I took a break from writing. It was unintentional, at first, then I realized that any time I took over the weekend to write the blog would be taking time away from something that I wanted to do more. So I didn't write; instead I focused on being here. Not just physically being present but really being here with the kids. Less iPhone and iPad time, less tv, more playing and laughing and talking and being. Okay, and a little online holiday shopping. Because I am still me.

Holiday Traditions

Now that we are past Thanksgiving, we are well into "the holidays." Some years I love this time, others I find it stressful and can't wait for it to be over already. This year I am loving it. 90% of my holiday shopping is done, the tree is up, the house is decorated, and I feel like for the next few weeks I can just sit back with the kids and focus on being here with them. 

T is closer to five than four now, and this age is the most fun we have seen for the holidays. He is really starting to "get" stuff like the Elf on the Shelf and other holiday traditions. For the first time ever, he sat with me while I addressed all of our holiday cards. We cranked up the Michael Buble holiday station on Pandora and T stamped and stickered every card while I addressed and return addressed them. It was like a holiday assembly line. And even though he was tired, T stuck it out and stamped and stickered every single card. We were both so proud of his handiwork. 

So for my final gratitude post, I am grateful for all the writing in did in November. I think it got me back on track. I look forward to writing more in the coming weeks, but not feeling like I have to write every day. I bet the next posts will be more genuine and representative of my real voice.

I am also grateful for the coming weeks and all the things we have to look foward to with our holiday traditions. Hopefully I can remind myself to focus on being here, creating holiday traditions for our little family and letting the other stuff go.