Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best Part of Christmas

If you have been reading my blog over the years, you know that 3 years ago we started a new Christmas tradition.  That year, we realized that our kids really didn't have any big "wants" and that it was time to make a change.  We decided to give them the money we would spend on a big gift at Thanksgiving.  They then had until Christmas to give it away...any way they wanted.  On Christmas day, instead of opening a big present, we would each tell how we gave our money away and the blessings that came with it.

This has been by far the best tradition we have ever started.  Seeing my kids get creative about giving the $$ away and each year getting so excited to do it again.

You can go here to see where they money went the first year and here to see where it went last year.  It is amazing how each year, there are no duplicates...God directs each of us in very unique directions.

This year was no different.

Alyssa is studying Speech Pathology in School.  She will graduate this May and head to graduate school to focus on stroke victims and brain injuries.  This year, she decided to give her money to the National Stroke Association to enhance awareness and support for stroke victims. This organization puts together pamphlets for stroke victims and their families to help them navigate the recovery process.

Jason has found a wonderful church to attend at college.  Each year, they create a toy store at the church for needy families.  They find out what toys are wanted, purchase them and then set up a room in the church where the kids/families can go in and get their toy.  Jason spent his money on toys for this project.  He also worked the project and actually got to see some of the kids he bought for walk out with their toys....very cool. 

Jared has a new band director at school....she is awesome!!!  He has watched her, this semester, work so hard to not only take the band to a new level but also "win over" that band.  He has watched her spend a lot of her own money on the kids and the program.  So, he and some of the kids went in together to buy her a gift card.  I think they blessed her in ways they don't even realize!

Steve gave his money to KIVA.  Interestingly, this is also where Jared gave his money the first year.
Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.  Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. But it is an "on-going" gift.  When the person pays back the loan, your money then goes to a new entrepreneur.  Steve's money went to a man in Jinja, Uganda.  This is also where Steve spent some time on a missions trip years ago and has a connection with.

I gave my money to a friend at church.  She is a single mom who found out in August that she has breast cancer.  Her son is in my Sunday school class.  She has not been able to work much since she started chemo and has been stretched in many areas.  So, before Christmas, I took her out one night and we bought presents for her son. We had so much fun together and it was a joy to be able to serve her this way.  But for me, the real gift was seeing how God used this to bless her even more.  I happened to be at work the next day and one of my regular customers asked me what I had done the night before.  I shared my friend's story and before we were done talking, she had written a check to my friend!!! So cool to see how God multiplies our giving and also how creative He is in taking care of us!!

So, another Christmas has gone by and I truly feel that my kids get it......that it really is better to give than receive.  That when we are generous and look out for others, the blessings we get in return are truly amazing and that there is no better feeling that to be God's hand and feet to someone else.

As we close this year, I am looking forward to see what God has in store for my family in 2011!!

Happy New Year!!



Rita said...

Thanks for sharing - it does my heart good to hear!

Patrice said...

This is so awesome and I have goose bumps all over! I would love to start this tradition with our family. This year was really hard, because just as you said, our family just does not have any big wants for Christmas. It is amazing how great our God is!

Aspiemom said...

That is so awesome that your family does that. It must make God burst with happiness to see what you are doing.

StephieAnne said...

So inspiring....

Cathy said...


Jill said...


I love to hear where the gift money goes!

Talkin' Texan said...

What a wonderful tradition! And what a blessing you are.

Sara said...

Oh, Sara, I'm crying after reading this! I was here this morning, but My Hubby interrupted me, He needed to email his resume, so I pulled up the email and told him about your post today, and told him to read it. I then got busy getting ready and when I came back down he had closed everything down...I just now got back from another day of running to enjoy reading this post. I had been thinking about it all day. You and your family are truly an inspiration.

Michelle said...

What a meaningful way to use your Christmas money and what a wonderful lesson you are teaching your kids.

Ok, now on to Paella! The recipe my dad used for his Paella came from a very old cookbook. I believe it is called Great Dinners by Time life.

One thing I do know is that he only uses the recipe as a base and then he pretty much does his own thing.

Paella isn't an easy dish, but one way he makes it easier is to cook most of the ingredients separately and then add them all together.

Next time I am over at his house I will copy the recipe for you.

Mimi said...

You've got me all crying over here. What amazing things you do to serve Our Father.


Susan said...

I. Love. This! It's a fabulous way to help kids reach out. I just may do it with half of my kids (the older ones) next year. Very inspirational.

:-) Susan

H-Mama said...

This is wonderful! Love it!

Maria said...

What a terrific post and inspirational family!

LuAnn said...

I look forward to this post!!!
Your family has been a blessing to many.

Jamie @ Six Bricks High said...

This is the BEST! Your family does the neatest things at Christmas, from the letter writing, their little dance, and all your generous giving...totally melts my heart to read about it!

rita said...

I was hoping you'd tell us all about the Christmas giving project again. It blesses all of us to hear how God led each of you.

Karin said...

I love hearing about how you and your family spent their money! So fun to give!! Our kids gave up their Christmas money from their grandparents to give it to another family member who has cancer.

Kim said...

I have to tell you, I always look forward to this post! It's such a blessing to hear how each of you has given and been blessed in the giving.

It was fun to hear how your giving was multiplied too! I just love how God does things like that :)

We were interested to hear about Steve's gift going to a man in Jinja. We know the town well. During the year we were in Uganda we went there a number of times, visiting some of the older kids from Kasana Children's Center who were at the vocational school or one of our young men who was at the YWAM training facility for six we discovered it was a GREAT place to get away for a rest. There was a wonderful B&B run by an Australian woman... right on the Nile, hence the name "Gately on the Nile". So many great memories of our times in Jinja! Especially our last weekend when Ivan, our kids and some other short term missionaries went white water rafting on the Nile while chicken-hearted me enjoyed some shopping in town :)