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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rethinking Christmas

My time constraints over the past few weeks have strongly effected my judgment. I am selecting some crazy gifts for people. Oh, yes I am. Like a trio of rabbits for Tonggu Grammy. And a hive of honeybees for my Aunt P. And a flock of ducks for the Tongginator's teachers.

Told ya I was losing it.

Seriously though, this year I know that I am finding Christmas... even better than I have in years past. You see, I'm not actually giving these gifts to people in my life. I'm giving these gifts to strangers I don't know, in honor of people I love.

You can, too. Check out Heifer International. Or Living Water. Or Compassion. Or Half the Sky. Or Love Without Boundaries.

Ever wonder why there are so very many charities to choose from? It's because the needs are so great. And I don't mean good.

Tonggu House is redoing Christmas this year. Because we HAVE to. And I don't mean "have to" in the financial sense. I mean it in the spiritual, emotional, we want the Tongginator to grow up thinking globally and acting locally kind of sense. She is receiving four gifts from us this Christmas.

Something she wants.
Something she needs.
Something to wear.
Something to read.

And that's it, except for the Grandparent Over-the-Top Goodness that comes along. And hopefully a little something from Santa in her stocking.

What about you? Are you changing anything about Christmas this year? What works for you?


OH MY #6 said...

I love this:

something she wants.
something she needs.
something to wear.
something to read.

I have been trying to simplify and this helps me. You are awesome.

So yes, I am trying to simplify and you have helped me.


Aunt LoLo said...

With the economy how it is this year...Lo Gung and I are really trying to ECONOMIZE this year. With the growth of my little shoppe has come an increased eagerness to "give handmade", and to simplify in our store-bought areas. Thank GOODNESS for a (decently close) fabulous outlet mall! The impending birth of our son has changed things, as well. I'm still killing myself trying to bake pumpkin bread for everyone I know, but I'm giving myself permission to just STOP at some point. I have my gifts lists in waves - there are the people who MUST receive gifts (friends I have stewardship over, through church), friends who OUGHT to receive gifts, and friends who I would be IMPRESSED if I got their gifts out before the baby comes. :-)

Mom to 5...Daughter of the King said...

We really got Christmas under control last year. This year I am expanding Christmas, a little, by one person, my husband. We haven't exchanged gifts in several years. And I want to, to celebrate the awesome relationship we have and to remember that it is God's gift to me! (among others of course.)

Rebecca Ramsey said...

What a motivating post! It seems like so many folks are really working at making Christmas meaningful this year. I love your four things. I'll write that down.

As we try to tighten our belt around here, I've put much more thought into gifts, which is good.

Great post!

happygeek said...

We are so incredibly cheap (a PhD on a private school teacher's salary will do that to you) that we have never done Christmas big.
We want the boys to know who Christmas is about, and for the focus to be on him not on stuff.
I was quite delighted to be ordering from the Samaritans purse catalogue, we give a shoebox, we buy things for the hampers our church gives out, we deliver hampers, We do St. Nicholas, not Santa and the kids know he is just a fictional character.
We also do a Jesse tree which is quickly becoming my favorite part of Christmas.

I LOVE your 4 gift idea.

mama d said...

Partly due to logistics, partly to acknowledge global need, we've changed a bit this year. Stockings will be much less full and all gifts to teachers and therapists will be handbaked. We decided as a family what to "buy" at Heifer. And, we're consciously NOT heading to a mall to sit on Santa's lap.

As my kids like to say, quoting Todd Parr, "It's OK to be different!"

oh amanda said...

Great idea! My bff gave me (and the rest of our friends) a chicken last year!

And we've been doing 3 gifts for our daughter...but I like the "theme" of these...


PIPO said...

I've been great with this approach in the past few years and it makes life much less stressful at the holidays. I plan to continue when my girl is home but I hope I don't trip over my excitement and fall into the hectic trap the first few years.

Carolina Mama said...

Hey Girl, Love your list! That is fabulous. I guess I am finished shopping now! :) Really, that's great. Have a good one.

bbmomof2boys said...

Christmas is my favorite time of year. There were always a ton of gifts under our tree when I was growing up. what I didn't realize at the time was there was alot of gifts because there were 5 kids! So, because of this, I want to "fill" up our Christmas tree for the boys and I ALWAYS go overboard. It's so so hard not too! I've done better over the years but with Little T it's happening again.

I love the way you have simplified the gift giving! Just wish I could do it!!


Judy said...

Oooo, I've done that the past few years with some people and they LOVE it. :)

Anonymous said...

For the teachers, I like First Book -- www.firstbook.org -- their goal is to give a child who wouldn't normally get one their first book of their very own.

~ Judy

discombobulated said...

I think I cry reading more of your posts than laugh. But, usually it's a happy cry (except for the recent deaths). You really seem to kick my butt in gear. I've been wanting to go on some sort of mission trip for years, and I've just decided that 2009 will be the year I do it. Instead of my traditional "girlfriend getaway" destination of the Carribbean, Arizona or wherever with drinks and chick flicks, I am going to advise that I am going on a mission trip and they are welcome to come. Instead of Italy this year with my family, I am going to tell them I'm going on a mission and they are welcome to come.
I'v already put a lot of thought into personalizing my store-bought gifts for people and I'd still like to give them this Christmas. But because I have not been a good Church goer this year I was upset that I didn't get to pick a tag off the angel tree. So, I will be giving animals instead through the Heifer foundation.
The four things for little T this year are going to be plenty, and she will learn what Christmas is about.

Kiy said...

Em is too young this year to really get it, but starting next year I want to use your four! I love it. Seriously, love love love it!

We are also scaling back, and have been for years. The years of the mile long list of stuff no one needs are gone. We too give gifts for our extended family in their names to various charities. We pick one each year, last year's was water, this year we are trying to decide on LWB or Half the Sky.

I put a two-gift limit on Little Bit for the grandparents this year. Last year's explosion was over-the-top.

Great post, thanks for sharing your 'four'. Priceless!


Debbie said...

I love Heifer Int. We have done that in the past. I am buying and spending less. I thought about doing those same four things but my kids are older teens and I think I'll get by with less doing it my way. They probably think they "need" a laptop and "want" something else expensive.

CC said...

Well you know from my post that that we have been rethinking Christmas for the last few years.

Momto3 said...

We give our boys 3 gifts and we don't try to make it $even. We do Operation Christmas Child and we took a child's name from the Giving Tree and bought for him. Luckily, our extended family doesn't buy for each other, though if they did I would definately do what you are doing.

T said...

Now I'm thinking I should have been changing A LOT about Christmas this year... I love your little poem!

Janet said...

I love it! That little rhyme. We just give one gift to our kids, and it's nothing huge. I don't want them to have the expectations that I had as a kid. My parents gave us a lot. Not everything, but a lot. Then one year my mom decided that they were going overboard and she decided to scale it back. I was SO disappointed, as were we all. We thought we were ripped off. How ungrateful. But I think we breed it in our kids if they get everything they want whenever they want it. It's our fault if they become ungrateful.

Misty said...

we're also doing the little poem in terms of my LO's gifts this year. i also want to raise my boys w/ an awareness of a world outside our homes and immediate life.

Carla said...

We do something similar with the kids.

gifts from each other, one each (or can share) for around $20. I.E. SMALL!

Then from "Santa" they get 3 "items" as sometimes an item has more than one part to it.

Something Fun and Frivolous
Something Useful and educational
Something monetary

Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

and Heifer International...I sat with their catalog the other day trying to choose who to give what. I really should go back to that and settle it out. Or do one of the other charities.

Patricia/NYC said...

I LOVE, LOVE. LOVE this idea!!!!
You have INSPIRED me!!! Thank you!!

Eileen said...

I'm new to your blog and agree whole-heartedly with this post. So well said.

Briana's Mom said...

What a great idea!

I am actually proud of myself with Bri this year. I didn't go overboard. Yay!

Now the grandparents are another story...

Jennifer said...

I agree! As a matter of fact, I wrote my own post on a similar theme, but more of a gift giving guide. You can find is on Mozi Esme's blog.

Peanut said...

We are still trying to figure out our own Christmas traditions, having lost all my family's traditions when my parents divorced a few years ago... I still think our kids are too young to really get it, so I'm not putting too much pressure on myself to figure it all out yet. I do know that I want it to be about more than just getting a ton of presents. I like the 4 gift idea... I think maybe next year, KK will be old enough to understand it. And I definitely want to start incorporating some charity giving into our Christmas traditions.... so much to decide.

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

we are doing less this year. I am going to buy for the hubby this year--although it won't be much. I grew up not doing much, but it's hard on my husband, whose holidays always included huge gifts. . .love your four gift idea. may work on him and see if we could do for next year. . .