I'd like to present a different kind of Christmas. If you're not shoppers, like us, it's a time to have more fun times with your family and friends. If you are shoppers and are tired of the rat race you run during the month of December and have been "wishing it could be different" for years, read on.
If you're a shopper and love to shop and love the cozy (oppressive?) crowds of the holiday shoppers and have endless money to spend for gift-giving, then this issue isn't for you.
Our Christmas has been very different from the usual consumerism of the month since we made an agreement with most of our friends and family that we wouldn't be exchanging gifts for Christmas. We suggested that we'd like to give to those who really need it (and avoid all those gifts you never know what to do with after you've opened them). We agreed to exchange gifts, but the money would actually be given to an organization instead. Saves the run-around, saves the wrapping, gas, stress, and the not-possible task of discovering the "perfect gift."
It has changed the whole outlook of the month of December. It's a refreshing time of the year to think about the birth of Jesus and all that He has done for us. And as He came to give, it's a wonderful way to celebrate to give to those who have so little. It also allows us all the time we used to wish we had to do the holiday activites and musical presentations.
We don't get sick from the stress of the season taking a toll on our immune systems, and we don't have to pay offbills for months into the new year. Some people have told me they don't get their debt paid off from one Christmas until it's time to begin shopping for the next. When you add the cost of interest to those Christmas gifts, you're giving a whole lot more than you had every planned on giving.
We have had the most exciting "thank you's" over the years of giving gifts/donations to organizations who support the poor. If folks are online, I send an email with the link to the site so they know more about where their gift money was given. If they're not, I make sure that the organization will send out a "thank you" with some information about what the money will do or provide. It's a wonderful feeling to really make a difference in lives rather than just to add 'stuff' to somebody else's home.
Most of us have more than enough in our homes and need no more to care for and maintain. We don't have to try to find a way to make the gift functional when in reality it's nothing we would've ever thought to buy.
Consider the fact that giving a contribution as a gift also gives you a tax break. You could possibly turn your Christmas dollars into a lower tax bracket on all that you earn. If you asked around, I bet you'd find that many people would love to do this. Give it a try! I could hear the relief in voices when I began suggesting it to family and friends. You'll find that most people would like to drop out of the typical commercial Christmas ordeal.
Make a list of those you exchange gifts with and contact them to see if you could both agree to really make a difference in our world. If they have organizations they love, ask for the names. If not, ask for a few "categories" that they would like to donate to, such as: children (Compassion International), the poor (Mercy Works), youth (Youth With a Mission), emergency care (Red Cross), shelters (Salvation Army), animal welfare (Humane Society of the United States), wildlife (National Wildlife Federation), preserving the natural world (The Nature Conservancy), or caring for creation while serving the poor (Target Earth). There are tons of options! What would they contribute to if they had a million dollars to give away. Then instead of shopping for things, shop online for places to give in their categories.
Here's some wonderful Scriptures about giving to the poor. You will reap much more than you give.
Blessed [is] he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
If there is some one in the family that really needs a gift, consider joining with other family members to purchase something that will really meet a need but would cost too much for one person to buy. Too many times people have enough gloves, ties, clothes and cologne, but a real need is an appliance or a new mattress. Maybe that could be the focus of foregoing presents to each other in a family. Make somebody that needs something the target of your giving within the family. It will be the best gift for everyone's heart and will bring out the true meaning of Christmas for all!