Christmas is coming. So are all the stresses, expectations, and responsibilities. Isn’t that sad?
We really want joyful, meaningful, sparkly holidays, but we can’t really figure out how to make that happen. It’s seems to be some sort of haphazard magic – when the snow falls at very moment Silent Night starts and all the kids are singing and smiling like angels. We feel warm and safe deep inside.
What if there really was a way to make Christmas more joyful, meaningful, and sparkly? My good friend Theresa and I believe that starts with compassion. When we look for ways to love, serve, and give instead of frantically spending and wanting, our homes and hearts begin to feel different. It’s heart changing and world changing. It’s joyful, meaningful, and our eyes get a little sparkly.
Thank you, Theresa, for letting us share how your family does Christmas!
by Theresa Ferguson at Family Freckles
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The messages to spend are everywhere in the weeks and months leading to Christmas. And we’ve all fallen victim to it.
Finding balance amidst the chaos that marketers push on our Christmas can be a challenge. So how can we break through the clutter to bring peace to our lives during Advent and Christmas? What can we do to make the holiday more meaningful?
Over the past several years our family has been trying to make changes that will help bring more focus to the true meaning of Christmas.
One of the most rewarding aspects is our family’s annual Ferguson “turkey run.” No, it’s not a race. Rather, as part of our Christmas gifts to each other, we have decided to purchase turkeys for our local food panty and provide meals to those less fortunate in our community. Last year, our extended family started joining us, as well. Instead of buying each other gifts, we all go shopping together and deliver turkeys to the People’s Resource Center in Wheaton, Illinois. The experience in itself is so rewarding and especially makes a great impact with our children.
The stories we’ve heard over the years about families in our community struggling to make ends meet has made us realize that we need look beyond the marketing of the season and share with others. It’s so hard to justify buying a pile full of gifts for our kids when you hear about that single mom holding down two jobs just to have a place to live and old car to drive, but can’t afford to put food on the table.
Our first year, we just went shopping for turkeys and all the fixings, spending hundreds of dollars without thinking of the cost for anything. After doing this for a few years, we decided to make the impact greater and stretch our dollars to feed as many families as we could. Sure, we could donate some money, and the food pantry could use it toward getting a great deal on food through their supporting food bank network. However, we felt the experience was vital for our children to understand the need and see the effect of giving.
So, last year, my husband and I decided to call around and see which stores could offer us the greatest price on turkeys for the food pantry. After much calling around to local grocery stores, most of whom could only offer a courtesy $25 gift card toward our purchases or said we had to go through corporate, we found the most generous support from a local Super Target (in Warrenville, Illinois), which was willing to give us a generous reduced per-pound price on turkeys. Combined with our family members, we were able to purchase 75 medium-sized turkeys for our local food pantry. That means 75 families would be able to have a nice sized turkey on their table for a Christmas dinner. We looked into other meats; but with turkeys, we were able to get the best deal and therefore feed the most families. So, now we go into Christmas with a little more enthusiasm knowing it involves doing something that will help others who are fighting just to put food on the table. Next year, we are challenging ourselves to purchase at least 100 turkeys for the food pantry, as even our kindergartener and 4-year-olds are excited about.
By trying to take steps to bring more peace into our Christmas, we hope that our children will understand the true meaning of the holiday and pass that along to future generations. The best gift we received this year was such from one of our girls who gave us a couple of chickens for Christmas. She purchased two chickens on our behalf through World Vision, which will provide a sustainable source of nutritious food and income (through selling eggs, in this case) to families around the world who live in poverty. Now we hope her five other sisters will follow suit!
How can you break through the clutter?
- Feed the Hungry: First, if you’d like to join our efforts, you can add to our order next year. We’ll be posting information in November. You can donate directly to People’s Reousrce Center, or pay for your amount of turkeys with the store directly and we’ll handle the delivery. Second, you can join us at the store next year! Either way, check back to our site next November or send an e-mail about the turkey run to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Make Gifts More Meaningful: We give our girls three gifts each, to represent the gifts the three wise men brought to celebrate Jesus’s birth.
- Sponsor a Family: Like my sister and her husband, they sponsor a family similar to theirs every Christmas and purchase gifts they would otherwise not be able to afford. There are plenty of local churches and organizations like the Infant Welfare Society that have created such programs.
- Family Time: Eat and pray together each day. Bring your faith into the story during Advent and do a devotional with your family or read aloud from the church’s daily readings after dinner. We read from the USCCB website.
This post originally appeared on familyfreckles.com
- Family Freckles – http://www.familyfreckles.com
- People’s Resource Center – http://www.peoplesrc.org
- World Vision – http://donate.worldvision.org/ways-to-give/gift-catalog
- Infant Welfare Society – http://www.infantwelfaresociety.org
- United States Council of Catholic Bishops – http://www.usccb.org
- It’s a Party (Christmas is Jesus’ Birthday)
- Our Story (Family Compassion Focus started after a bad Christmas)
- Getting Started (Ideas for focusing on compassion all year)
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©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2015.