I love this time of year. I love how the cold and the snow keep us inside and focused on being together. I love how our family is maturing and developing. I love the family we are becoming.
As a child, I had the kind of Christmases Walmart's dreams are made of. The amount of stuff my sister and I received was totally and completely out of control -especially since most of it was never again touched after ripping off the paper. Ugh!!
Partly because of finances, partly because of having a large family and mostly because the desire to be less materialistic, DH and I, long ago, decided that was not the road our family was going down. We began by limiting the amount of gifts each child got to three in honor of the three gifts of the Magi (I know that event didn't technically happen on Christmas, but it works). This didn't include "stocking stuffers". Friends, you'd be surprise what you can fit into a stocking 3' x 1'(he,he, he... I was trying). Each year we have gotten better and better, arriving now at this year where we are making all our gifts. This has really helped us to focus on the giving, instead of the receiving.
This weekend, we decided, as a family, to purchase a goat and two chickens for a family in third world country through World Vision International. When I explained that this gift, for someone else, would be in place of our usual large family gift, not one complaint was uttered. I was and am so proud! They immediately set about trying to decide what our gift would be. It was a close call between the goat- chicken combo and the stocked pond-fishing kit combo. We decided that next year will be the fishing gift, as it was over twice the price of the goat one, and we will make a poster of some kind to help us to focus and save for our next years gift.
There are two charities, that I know of, that have these kinds of gifts for people to give. There is Heifer Project International and World Vision International. I am so grateful for these two organizations who provide us with ways to love others from afar.
P.S. For loving those less fortunate, near by, we are working on a plan. More on that later.