Saturday, December 9

Not Our Usual Christmas

We're changing the way we do business here at our house this Christmas.
For the past four years since we met each other, we have gone out and spent extravagantly on gifts for each other. We go to the malls and department stores and search high and low for the perfect gift for the other person and for many others. I can never find the right gift for Amy, mainly because we have everything we need, and if we don't have it, we get it when we need it.
There are many families in our town who don't have that luxury, and the number is growing exponentially. According to the Heartland United Way, the need for locals to step up and help the less privileged is now higher than ever. They are in charge of three holiday programs: Toys for Tots, The Giving Tree and Adopt A Family. When I talked to the projects coordinator on Wednesday, she said the number of families referred to them by their internal agencies for Adopt A Family for Christmas has nearly doubled--from 38 last year to 71 this year.
So, as you can imagine, they're having a hard time finding enough people to buy gifts for children who need them.
The other day, I talked to my co-workers about foregoing the usual Secret Santa shopfest and contributing all our money to Adopt A Family. Most of them agreed that was the way to go; the ones who didn't agree were coerced by yours truly.
We got our family yesterday and we're shopping for them on Monday. Here's the list of what they need:
Single parent family having tough financial times:
Mom No gift requested
Son (13) 12 Husky jeans, coat
Son (10) jeans, shirts, cars, planes, army guys
Daughter (7) Coat, Bratz doll, jeans
After reviewing this list of items, it really changed the way Amy and I look at Christmas. We were talking over dinner last night and trying to imagine what it would be like to tell your kids that Santa isn't coming this year.
It was a weepfest as you can imagine. We kept looking at Jack and realizing how lucky the three of us are: we have a warm home (drafty, but warm nonetheless), we have plenty of clothes, we eat well (that goes without saying if you've see me lately), and we have each other.
Oh yeah, and we were in El Toro while this emotion overload came on. Heidi, you would have been so proud!
We quickly decided that whatever money we were putting toward gifts this year would now go to those who desperately need to feel the power of the holiday spirit. We will be going to pick some names off The Giving Tree to take gifts to individuals in nursing homes and the vet's hospital who otherwise will not receive gifts this year. Can you imagine how much Jack will brighten someone's day, bopping in there with a gift for them?
We are also going to make a concerted effort to pinch pennies this month so that we can afford to spend more than usual on Christmas...for others. Which means no more El Toro (if we're even welcome in there anymore)!
And we will probably adopt our own family so we can give to those who actually need it.
Yes, it means I won't be getting that new camera after all and Amy won't be getting her iPod. And my clothes are looking shabby and I'd love to have brand new. But I just can't justify it this year. I have clothes and coats and jeans and food and candy and holiday decor. And, Heaven knows I have a camera!
We've had our perspective on the holidays drastically changed this year, thanks to our new role as parents. It's not about us anymore; it's all about WWJD (that's Jesus; not Jack). And I can tell you one thing: Jesus would feed and clothe the poor. And in honor of his glorious birth, that's what this family will also be doing. We're just a little embarassed that it took us almost 30 years to figure it out!
We encourage your family to do the same, on whatever scale you can afford. Can you imagine if every family donated to one of these causes every year, in lieu of miscellaneous ridiculi?
If you want more information on who to contact to contribute to any of these causes, let me know and I'll give you the contact information--even for your local area.
We'll keep you posted with pictures and stories about our personal Christmas Crusade!
The Bleeding Hearts
(Dave, Amy & Jack)


becca said...

Seriously, very inspiring...thank you! We have thrown the idea around of doing something charitable this Christmas despite our lack of money (darn new home ownership), but this has convinced me! We're looking forward to hearing more about your "Christmas Crusade"!