Living in a country where materialistic possessions rule, making a decision to not join in is a big one… a controversial one to some… especially around the holidays. Whatever holidays you celebrate or don’t, it’s more about trying to give than to receive right? I am trying to instill this in my son and it’s not easy when you’re surrounded by media, friends, family & other sources who are feeding in quite happily to the consumerism of the holiday season. Make your lists kids… what do you want? The real question should be… what can you do or what can you give? This should be the norm, but it’s not, so here are a few things we do to move in the right direction.
DONATE. Throughout the year, we donate to the veterans association, but especially around the holidays, I make it a point every year to have my son pick out at least 10 toys to donate to other less fortunate kids. We even sent a large package via a friend of ours to an area that had an earthquake with millions of homeless people struggling to even find a cardboard box to lay on for bedding. When we took a trip recently, we brought toiletries and children books with us in a carry on bag to give to the disadvantaged women and children of the country we were visiting. This is a simple thing to do to contribute and help improve the poverty where you are traveling to. Thank you to my sister for finding this online and making it a reality!
PICK A CAUSE. We started a new tradition in our family last year. Everyone picks a charity that they would like to support. Everyone else donates to their charity in their honor in lieu of a gift to them. It felt so good giving instead of receiving more “stuff” we didn’t need. In this world of excess, it is nice to not focus on “things” for once. This allowed me personally to enjoy myself a lot more than normal- taking pleasure in knowing I was helping others if even in a small way. Wounded Warrior, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Photographers without Boarders, Southern Poverty Law Center, Orange County Rape Crisis Center.. these are just a few that we were able to help out last year. Hopefully, we can get more family members involved in this tradition in the years to come!
REACH OUT. There are so many things you can do locally to help out those in need, like giving meals or just your time to homeless individuals or families. Or, keeping extra blankets, coats, etc. in your car for those times when you see someone who needs to stay warm… yes, even in CA it gets cold at night! One person suggested on Facebook to take unwanted or used purses and fill them with personal care items to give to homeless women who don’t have access or resources to get these items themselves.
This is what the holiday season should be about… and all year around. It takes an act of selflessness and sometime bravery to think of others before yourself, but it is so important… for the example you set for your children and those around you; and to reinforce a sense of community in this self-centered society we are surrounded by. Dare to be different and let others know that you care about this enough to make a sacrifice this year. Even the smallest gestures make a big difference in the lives of others.