Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas tradition...sorry, this is long....grab a cup of coffee!

I think this was one, if not the, best Christmas we have ever had!

It started out with our Christmas eve service where both my boys played their instruments.

It was wonderful. The service was full and we shared it with the Korean church that uses our facilities. How wonderful to hear favorite songs sung in another language and to worship along side them!We came home to no electricity!

But even that turned out great. We enjoyed our traditional dinner by candle light and talked about the many blessings that God had poured out on us this year.

The lights came on just in time for the kids to exchange their gifts and read their letters to each other. I so hope that this is one tradition my children will keep up in the future!

Christmas day my 20, 18 and 15 year olds woke ME up out of a dead sleep at 6:50!! Some things never change!!

My mom gives us each a Santa bag to open at Christmas.....kind of like a stocking. This year she put something of hers in each bag. I think this was one of the favorite gifts we all got. Alyssa received a coveted ice cream mold, Jason an antique dominoes set dated before the civil war,

Jared a crystal paper weight from Tiffanys he has always admired (numbered and documented), Steve received a dated pot that my Aunt brought back from Jericho on her first trip to Israel and I received a glass angel from Murano Italy........priceless! I just wish she could have been there to see us open each one.

But the best part of our Christmas came at the end. When all the presents and stockings were open, each of us took time to tell where they gave their Christmas $$. If you read this post, you know that we started a new tradition last year.

We decided to take the money we would spend on their large gift for Christmas and give it to them over Thanksgiving. They each then had till Christmas to give it away. Any way they want. It could be all to one place or they could spread it out. They could give it to a charity or to a person they know is having a hard time. They could use it to start a business and then give the proceeds away. The options were limitless and were their own. It was up to them, alone, to give their gift to someone else. Then on Christmas morning, instead of opening the gift, we each told how we spent the money and what came of it.

Last year was amazing and this year was no different. The best part was hearing them tell how God led them to where they gave their money.

Jared started. His english teacher been sharing with the kids in her class about her family over the semester. She told them that her daughter was a teacher in a very poor school where the kids could barely afford pencils. When Jared got his money, he went to his teacher and told her that he wanted to buy supplies or something for those kids, but he couldn't drive and couldn't ask his mom to help him (they have to do it on their own). So his teacher helped him buy each child in the class a book and an apple. The kids had alread sent him a thank you note that each signed!!! How cool is that?!

Jason said at first he had a hard time this year finding where God wanted his money.

But about 2 weeks ago, he was listening to the radio and heard them talking about a band that was giving the proceeds of their Christmas album to buy gifts for the soldiers. The radio station talked about how the soldiers families are sometimes forgotten and gave a web site where you could go and adopt a family for Christmas. Jason got a family's name and went and bought the gifts and shipped them to the family. He had some money left over and gave that to World Vision to buy clothes for kids.

Alyssa is studying Speech Language Pathology in school. She is finding that there has not been a lot of research done in this area and there is a limited number of techniques that they have to use. She found a non profit organization that grants money to the research of new techniques for Speech Pathology.
Steve.......bought a llama!! Heifer International lets you buy animals,etc for families in under developed countries. It is a means for food for them and business. Visit Heiffer to find out more.

I gave my money to Heartline Ministries. You can go here to find out more about their ministry to women in Haiti. They are currently trying to raise money for an ambulance, check it out.

This is by far my new favorite tradition.

And we ALL have agreed that we want to make it a permenant part of our Christmas......

..............that makes my heart swell!!!


LuAnn said...

Sara - This is an wonderful tradition. A great way for your family to share their love with others.
Loved all the pictures too.
We saw Elizabeth at church on Christmas Eve for our candlellight service. My brother picked her up. May next year we can get her husband to come too.
Blessings to you and your family.

Darla said...

that sounds amazing!... great tradition you have started!

fransmomma said...

a friend of mine's mother gives a $100 bill to each of her kids and their spouses each year at christmas (6 people total) instead of presents. each person then had 2 hours to go give that $100 to a stranger that they think needs it. they do this usually on the 23rd or 24th so there are plenty of places open and opportunities waiting. then they all come back together and share about the experience. its such a cool tradition.
youre is absolutely fantastic too. i love hearing these kinds of stories!!
thanks for sharing!

Sara said...

I do think this is an AMAZING tradition and hope to start it in our family one day too! I love that your Mom sent things to each of you WHILE she is still here. That really was very touching, knowing it's just STUFF and that maybe someone special would be able to enjoy it MORE because it came from HER and not something they got "when she was done with it." (That's how I say died)
Those things will be so much more cherished because they came FROM her.

rita said...

Wonderful outcome!
BTW, Heartline link is not the one.

Kim said...

Lovely tradition! It was so fun to hear how they chose such different ways to give :-)

Mocha with Linda said...

I always love seeing your pictures, but I especially loved reading about this year's outcome of the money given away! That is way cool!

sara said...

thanks Rita...I fixed it!!

Jewel said...

Wow what great stories! Jared's really moved me! How great!

What is this tradition about letters to each other?

<3 Jewel

Edie said...

I love your Christmas tradition. I need to find a way to implement that into our Christmas somehow. May have to wait for the grand-girls to get old enough to do on their own.

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

Oh Sara, I absolutely love this! I think it so great that they all want it to become a permanent tradition.

SusanD said...

I love reading where and how the $$$ was donated. What a blessing to everyone....your family and the families who received the donation.

BTW, my hubby was cutting my wig heads in half for my final class presentation.

Blessings, SusanD

Esthermay said...

We bought a goat last year through Heifer!! I had a hard time explaining to Selah & Shepard why the picture of the goat in the catalog made me cry. (We raised both our youngest children on goats’ milk and I have a thing for goats. Lol!

I’m going to check out Heartline Ministries. Someone mentioned this to me last week as a project for a Bible Study I’m leading. (Check your {here}link on this one.)

I really like this tradition too – I think we may try it on a small scale next year for the (then) six- and seven-year old.

Jared’s seed certainly produced beautiful fruit. What a precious gift-in-return!! How much did you dwell on the reason for his teacher's tears since Thanksgiving ? :)

...if those are music notes on that fleece blanket on Alyssa’s lap, I want it. I looked everywhere this year for a fleece throw for my mom with a musical theme... no luck.

Cathy said...

Sara that is such a wonderful new tradition. I love it.

By the way..your daughter looks just like you. Just thought I'd let you know, in case no one else had ever told you. lol

Beverlydru said...

You inspire me. You are such an awesome mom. I love what your mom added to her Santa Bags this year. Blessings to you, my friend.

Karin said...

I loved reading how everyone gave their money away. :))) My favorite was the soldier one...'cause that is just where my heart happens to be right now.

Growin' with it! said...

i've been looking forward to this post!! and i look forward to the day i can implement this idea into our family. we did the angel tree w/ our boys this year and the seed is hopefully planted! you are incredible parents sara!!

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

Oh, I can't tell you how much I love this tradition! Makes me want to come be a part of your family. :) Or I guess we can just start it over here too!

I can't tell you how much you inspire me, and how much I want my little one to turn out like your 3 incredible kids.

Lori at The Davidson Den said...

Oh, what a wonderful idea! I love how God used YOUR efforts to bless others to turn around and bless YOU right back!! Awesome God!! Don't know if you read this post of mine
But your tradition sounds like something my family ought to try out!

Lisa said...

I was LOOKING for this post, so I'm not sure how I missed it! Must have been the Christmas fog I was in. So cool...amazing how five people from the same family can have such varied interests and burdens. God is so cool!

And yes, I am a northerner laughing at that "snow". That would never make it on any weather report or even briefly mentioned at the water cooler. All about perspective!

Rachel @ Future Pastor's Wife said...

Sara, this is so, so beautiful! What an amazing testimony and tradition!