Meaningful gift giving

Growing up, my family has always had a long list of Christmas traditions. Starting on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and moving all throughout the day on the 25th, our time is filled with meaningful activities that we have come to expect each year. As adults we have shifted things around a bit, but whenever we are able to all get together at Mom & Dad's, it's always the same. Lots of presents and lots of food--comfort at its finest.

A few years ago, after Curt and I got married, we were feeling somewhat overwhelmed with material things. We were married at the end of October and I was still trying to get out my thank you notes by the time Christmas rolled around. That year we decided that instead of giving traditional gifts we would make some sort of donation in honor of each person in our family. We chose charities that were meaningful to every individual and gave tokens of that donation during our gift exchange. Thinking back, it was one of my favorite Christmases, and since then we have made an effort to continue to include donations as a part of our traditions.

It is so important to me for Addie to understand how fortunate we are and that our focus this time of year should not be on the list of things we want, but on what we are able to give. I know it sounds so trite, but in the excitement of planning for the look on Addie's face Christmas morning, I feel like I have fallen away from that goal. I have talked with both sides of the family about what we are getting Addie and what she "needs" but I haven't made any suggestions to donate money in her name. I have gone onto and made my wish list, but have I made any significant donations or charities a part of that list? Not yet.

Yesterday I watched an episode of Oprah that focused on women survivors of war and ways we can all help. It served as a much needed wake up call to put my priorities back in check. I was also reminded once again how personal making a donation can be. It seems like a completely different feeling to know exactly where my money is going and how it will be used, which translates so easily into thoughtful gift giving.

I have had several friends tell me about how hard it is to buy for certain people in their families because they already seem to have everything. Maybe they do. Until a few years ago, I didn't know that you can buy a goat for a family in Africa for around $75, which will not only give that family needed nutrition, but substantially boost their income as well. How cool would it be to tell your grandma that instead of buying her another pair of slippers or a Snuggie, you sent a girl in Rwanda to school for a year in her name? The Christmas I was pregnant with Addie, my parents gave a New Mother and Baby Kit in my name and I cannot tell you how much that meant to me.

Maybe you are already aware of these programs or you already have a charity you like to support. I know there are many organizations out there to choose from, but if you are looking for one to go through, World Vision is one we have used and liked. Women for Women International is one that Oprah is promoting and they seem to have some amazing opportunities as well.

After browsing through some of those cataloges, I think I found the perfect thing to add to Addie's list. Then every time she makes that sweet "peep, peep, peep" sound, I can squeeze her just a little bit tighter and know my baby girl, as small as she is, has made a big difference. I can't get that at Wal-Mart.


The Alrikabi's said...

We are big fans of Heifer Intl!!!

sara said...

I have never gone through them before, but it looks like this will be the year!