If your child had his letter to Santa ready in October, you may be wondering if the true meaning of Christmas has been lost amid the glitter of twinkling lights. No one can deny there is something magical about the Christmas season, but in the rush of shopping and indulging in gifts, it can be very easy for Christmas to become a time of getting, rather than giving. Refocusing your family on giving back can not only be refreshing to a weary heart, but help your family be thankful, so that the “season of giving” is just that.
1. Clean out old toys and take them to your local shelter.
It is sometimes hard for kids to let go of their toys, even if they’re ones they never play with, so start prepping your children early. Begin setting aside items each month and gradually add to the pile. While you can remind your children that they are making room for the new toys they will receive, you can also emphasize that the toys they no longer play with can bring joy to another child.
2. Serve a meal at your local shelter or church.
Pick a service activity you and your family can do together. Serve a meal at your local homeless shelter or serve together at a church function. Sometimes we need a reminder to count our blessings, and spending time with those in need is a good way to get a perspective on how blessed we really are.
3. Add some Christmas cheer to someone’s life.
Inexpensive items like paper chains, cinnamon dough ornaments, and clothespin reindeers can be made without a lot of financial investment. Consider helping to bring some festive cheer to a classroom, a shut-in, a nursing home, or anyone you know who might be struggling with loneliness this season.
4. Make a gift package for a less-fortunate child.
Participate in a program like Angel Tree, which gives gifts to children of the incarcerated, or Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, which sends shoeboxes to children around the world. Let your child actively be a part of choosing and wrapping a few small gifts. These organizations also often need help wrapping and packaging gifts for shipping, and can be found online or at local churches throughout the Triad.
5. Make cookies or a meal for an elderly neighbor or nursing home.
Activities you can do together in service of others are the best way to remember what Christmas is about; after all, the Baby Jesus was a precious gift given in sacrifice. If you know someone whose Christmas may not be so festive, make an effort to reach out and bless them.
6. Make cards for soldiers serving overseas.
Don’t forget all of our brave men and women who are fighting for justice and freedom all around the world. Let them know we remember and appreciate their sacrifice and time away from their families this season in service of our country.
7. Go Caroling.
There’s nothing like “Silent Night” to bring the reason for the season into focus. Plus, it’s fun to head out into the cold night as a group, enjoying the Christmas lights, only to return home for some hot chocolate. Call ahead or print fliers to let your neighbors know when you’ll be by.
Christmas is a wonderful time to cultivate a thankful heart and reach out to help others. There is almost always someone that you can bless by your presence or time. You may just find that focusing on giving instead of getting blesses you and your family as well.