Not everyone was thrilled with our declaration to stop gifting, but with one exception they have accepted it. (We gift the money given to us from our exception each year).
The others have really embraced the change. We get calls or cards telling us how the money was distributed. (Though we have never asked anyone if they did give to charity or where they gave to.) Sometimes we get an email asking us for some ideas of where we would like the donations to go. We have recommended the support of Heifer International, Ebenezer Glenn Orphanage in Haiti, Orphan Grain Train, and Compassion International. We sponsor two children through Compassion. One family member have chose to make large monetary gifts to the families we sponsor. It has been awesome to see how that extra money has changed the lives of the kids we pray for and have come to love. We certainly never expected that this change in our Christmas giving would answer our prayers of provision for those families. God is amazing in his faithfulness!!
We have received unexpected blessings from giving up gift giving.
- Our children are more aware of the world around them. While looking for places to give to, we have learned a lot about the needs of people in our community and around the world. This brought a lot of discussion on forms of government, unemployment, types of climate, public education, etc. Our kids began to see how different families and their circumstances can be.
- We all became more thankful. Seeing everything that others do not have reminds you of everything you do have. And all the things you take for granted. We have been reminded how blessed we are to have our faith in Jesus, family members, a warm home and food to eat, a safe community and good health.
- Our kids learned they can make a difference. Our children have learned that there are children in our own community who do not have enough to eat. This moved something very deep in my daughter's heart. Last year, she earned money to donate to a local charity that provides a sack meal for children in need to bring home from school. It also provided an extra sack meal on the weekend. This year, she is hand drawing cards and selling them to purchase chickens from Heifer International.
- Others began experiencing the joy of giving freely. There are some in our family that had never given more than a few coins to charity. Some had never given outside the collection plate at church. For the first time, some gave openly for the first time and they were blessed by it. Our children also learned the joy of giving and now they eagerly look forward to choosing who to give to each year.
- More peace and less stress. I no longer worry about who is getting what, how to pay for it all, or fighting crowds at the mall. Instead, we have money set aside that we know we will be giving and we buy only a few presents (which are usually ordered online). Our Advent season is very joyful and peaceful and there is lots of time to invest in each other.