Christmas - There is a reason for the season, but an Xbox-Kinect isn't it.
Tell that to the people haggling over parking spots at the mall and the last "It" toy on the shelves.
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, but there are times when the commercialism and greed threatens to override the good for me. I'll be the first to admit that I'm sucked in by the ads and commercials that come out around the same time as the Halloween candy. You start thinking that you need to buy a gift for everyone you know. The list gets longer and longer and there's a level of spending that just becomes expected, year after year. If you don't put yourself into debt for a couple of months....well....there's just something wrong with you.
So this year Hubby and I decided to do something a little different. Wanting to try and find a way to hold onto some of the true spirit of the season, we agreed to cut back on the spending for each other and family this year. Everyone agreed that there is nothing that any of us truly "needs". How many sweaters and gift cards can you really use? We're lucky enough to both have jobs, a home, and three square meals a day. This apparently makes us among the minority in this country, which is very sad. We decided to make purchases this year for people who really need/deserve them.
- The money we normally just place in our church envelopes, we've been using to buy food to donate to the church's outreach program. It actually makes me feel like I'm doing more than just handing over money. While I'm doing my own grocery shopping, I'm thinking about the people who may be able to benefit from the extra cans of soup that I'm adding to my cart. I also realize that I'm giving more than I normally would have probably placed in the envelope.
- My company sponsors a couple of charities every year through various fundraisers. One of this year's charities is the Buffalo City Mission and the fundraiser for Christmas is men's socks. That's right, just socks. Many of the men who the Mission helps, are homeless and may not even own something as simple as a pair of socks. That's an extremely humbling thought. Doesn't make those "It" gifts as important anymore huh? Socks it is.....
- A check that I'm sending to the Erie Country SPCA - a non-profit organization, dedicated to the welfare of all animals. This one in particular receives no financial support from any city, county, state or federal governments. They depend solely on donations and grants. They are also where one of the loves of my life (Miss Daisy) came from, so they hold a very special place in my heart. They definitely deserve a gift.
- Something which has a very personal meaning to me - A gift for some very hardworking people, who deserve a thank you. My older brother has Downs Syndrome and lives in a supervised group home. The people who work there are extremely dedicated and do not receive the appreciation that they deserve. In a world that worships people who make a living catching a ball, or being famous for staying married for 72 days, they are the true heroes, but rarely are noticed. We sent each of them a Christmas card along with a small gift. We thanked them for their dedication and told them how lucky we are to know that my brother is being taken care of by such a great group of people.
I have to say that these small gifts have given more back to me than I had expected. They've actually made me enjoy Christmas more - the stress level of getting the perfect gift or spending too much just isn't there. More than anything it's helped me remember the reason for the season......I think we've found a new tradition.
What are you doing to keep the true spirit of the Season?