I came across this really cool video clip recently (it was played at my church) which talks about other things we could do at Christmas instead of monotonously buying gifts. Check it out if you like! http://www.adventconspiracy.org/videos/
2008's Operation Christmas Child boxes, all ready to go - I had friends come around for a Christmas Child afternoon tea!
Then this year I came up with a fabulous idea! We'd wrap shoe boxes every Christmas Day. For the past few years I've been doing Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. I buy a few items each month with our groceries, then put them all together into shoe boxes for collection. These are SO much fun to do. You get to buy a whole lot of small items - something to love, something to wear, something for school, something for hygene, something to play with and something special. Run by Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child delivers these shoe boxes of love to children around the world who have nothing. For many, it will be the ONLY gift they ever receive. Can you imagine? NEVER having been given a present...not once, not ever, in your whole life? For so many of these families, life is about barely surviving, so a present is kind of non-important. So Operation Christmas Child gives a little bit of love to these kids and their families by the simple offering of a shoe box of gifts. If you're interested in filling a shoe box (or so) yourself, they have some really clear instructions here:
There you go. Our new family tradition is that each Christmas Day, we will take time to wrap shoe boxes to fill over the coming year. Each person can put a small gift in to get us started then the shoe boxes will be gradually filled, ready for their early October collection day. This way we get the joy of celebrating Christmas, and get the boxes in on time! We do get to give gifts at Christmas, but without it becoming all about more for us. We will be reminded that Christmas is about love, and giving, and friendship. That it's about time, not belongings. This year, Boyo and I started the tradition off by wrapping a shoe box. I only had one, so we'll have to find a few more during the year!
Here's the start of my Operation Christmas Child 2010 stash - something for school - bought at Warehouse Stationary at their back to school sale, $3.05 per box (I am doing 12 - one for each month of the year). How cool is that!?! Stationary is the most important thing that can go in these boxes - kids always need something for school and often have no way of getting it.
I hope you are encouraged and inspired to perhaps think of Christmas giving in a different light? I realise that Christmas is different for all our families, with different pressures, expectations, and decisions. This is just what has worked for me. Whatever you choose to do, my prayer is that Christmas will be one of love, peace, and joy for your family...and that the year between now and then will be filled with the same! Amy