Tuesday, December 4, 2012

{Compassion} It's About Giving

My husband and I sat alone in Zaxby's earlier this week. By alone, I mean, our kids weren't with us. They were at their schools. But, also, he pulled in the parking lot to meet me at 10:59 a.m. An early lunch worked best in our schedules, so we went with it. And we were the first customers of the day. Being alone meant we had some time to talk.

Christmas easily worked itself into our conversation. "So what do you have for the kids?" he asked, knowing I am mostly done shopping.

I paused, realizing my list for my kids was short. I told him I had several books and some craft supplies for our 5-year-old girl and some other books and a movie for our 3-year-old boy. Then I defended my short list: "I don't want to walk into a store and buy them toys just for the sake of buying them something. I want to be inspired to get something good."

We are blessed with generous family and friends who will shower us with treats this holiday season. We've tried to intentional about making sure the true, everlasting meaning of the Christmas season doesn't get lost in the consumerism in which our culture is drowning.

Last year my daughter poured change and dollar bills from her piggy bank to help buy gifts for a local family who couldn't afford to have gifts under their tree. Coats were included in what our group of friends bought this family. Yes, we got them some games and toys. But, hello, every kid needs a coat. And my girl helped.

Learn more about the
Compassion gift catalog.
For the second year, our Jesus Birthday Party with friends will include a collection for money to be spent on items from the Compassion International gift catalog and canned goods for a local food pantry. My friend who is planning activities for our church party was talking to me today about ideas to incorporate giving while we're gathered there to celebrate Christmas. We mentioned the Compassion catalog and having kids make cards for local nursing homes.

Gift giving is my love language.

I like to happen upon a gift for a friend and buy it for them. Sometimes I store these treasures until birthdays or Christmas, but other times I give them just because. Part of this love language I speak and hear gets frustrated this time of the year because I don't make wish lists to share with people in our holiday gift-giving circle and sometimes people want that. When people ask what my kids want, I always answer with general areas of interest. "Cate is really into anything crafty. Ben likes dinosaurs and vehicles." I'm sure it's frustrating for someone whose love language isn't gift giving, but I can't bring myself to distribute a list of specific gifts when our family is so incredibly blessed. We don't need anything.

Because we're blessed I want to give. I want to give money to help families have Christmas presents under their trees. I want to give money to help families in other countries have better lives with less disease, more nutrition and greater sustainability. I want to teach my kids to want to give.

Yes, this time of the year is a fine time to give. But, really, giving should happen in any month. Those same kids that opened the box with a new coat inside probably will need new shoes next spring. Disease will still plague poverty-stricken countries in the summer. The needs don't just crop up in December. But this is month in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who was born in a manger because Bethlehem had no other room for the savior of the world and later died a gruesome death so we could have eternal life in a place his Father has spent more than 2000 years preparing for us. Seems like as good a time as any to give.

Oh, so, my husband reminded me that having a sense of wonder on Christmas morning is part of being a kid. He came up with a great Christmas gift for our kids. One of his childhood memories inspired the idea. As he was talking about this, I realized how stories are such a rich part of my gift-giving love language and I was reminded how grateful I am my husband and I are in this parenting -- and giving -- thing together.

Think about how you can change Christmas -- and maybe even life -- for someone. Visit the lonely. Make cards for the sick. Pray for the helpless. Give money. Meet needs. Give food. Give gifts. Create wonder. Show love. How do you hope to make a difference this season? And what about the next season?

This blog post was inspired by Compassion International's #ItsAboutGiving campaign. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Or follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

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