Christmas Giving {Sacrifice, Love and Spending Less}

Lately I’ve been re-hashing my past gift-giving practices trying to figure out what I’ve done right and what I’ve done wrong over the years.  I’m kind of annoyed with myself for the years when we went overboard on toys and stuff for our kids.  We didn’t do it every year but the years we did do it it was probably overkill.   I love my kids and I have loved buying them things but when it becomes pile after pile of toys and stuff that rarely get played with or appreciated like I had intended, it’s just a waste.  And I can’t stand waste.

So this year I’m repurposing on a whole new level.  I’m actually repurposing things we already have into new gifts for friends and family as well as finding creative ways to give to my own kids and others that don’t cost a lot of money, have big bang for the buck and still show that I care.  And even though this isn’t a new concept or even new to me, I think it’s important to focus on why we give and the time spent in finding that “perfect” gift or MAKING that “perfect” gift that says “I love you” more than what the actual gift is.  When I give to someone, I want their reaction to be “oh, she really thought of me and who I am” .   I don’t want the focus to be on the cost , the value or the  popularity.   iPads, iPods, iPhones…they’re great but they’re not personal.  If you want a TV, a new computer, a stereo or 2 tickets to the next Justin Bieber concert, you’re not likely to get them from me.

The next thing I want to focus on in my gift-giving is keeping the economy going.  I know, WHAT??  And it’s not by buying Sony, Apple , or Toshiba products.  Those items are made and shipped from Asia.  And as much as I love the Asian people, right now I need to focus my efforts on keeping our North American economy going. Did you know that the American postal service lost a couple billion dollars last year? They did.  People are not mailing like they used to.  People are using UPS, FedEx and local couriers.  We need to keep our postal workers working.  This may seem like an odd thing to focus on for Christmas but I think it’s one small way we can all help our neighbours and our economy.  Consider actually making a Christmas letter this year and NOT sending it via e-mail.  Send cards; they’re so much cheaper than they used to be.  And who doesn’t love to get Christmas cards in the mail?? I love it but the last few years I’ve gone from getting more than 40 a year to less than 20.  This is something we can all do and it shows our friends and family that we’re thinking of them while supporting our economy.  Also, mail your packages. There’s tons of time to get stuff in the mail. I’ve mailed items right up until Dec. 22 and it still reaches its destination by the 24th!  It isn’t hard to put a little something into the mail.

Next comes the actual items I’m thinking of sending.  I used to bake a lot prior to Christmas.  Like A LOT.  Mountains of cookies, squares, tarts and goodies.  I have not done that for a few years.  Busy schedules and lack of motivation have stymied my creative juices.  I made a commitment this year to revive my passion of baking for family and friends.  There are so many young moms who don’t have the time or ability to bake a lot.  There are older folks who can’t justify spending the time  and money on baking for just themselves.  There are neighbours and friends who need to know you’re there.  Baking is a simple, yet sacrificial way to show you care and think of those in your life.

And beyond the baking , I’m making.  Making gifts, crafting, reviving the art of creating.  I know there’s a lot of people who think it’s lame and you can’t really get quality out of homemade item.  But I beg to differ.  With a little ingenuity and a lot of Google searches you can find so many wonderful ways to make gifts.  A homemade gift says that you cared enough to take the time.  Time is something no one wants to SPEND.  We’d rather spend our money than our time. But which one speaks more?  Money is easy to find , easy to get and easy to spend.  Time is a commodity in short supply.  Time requires sacrifice.  Time requires thought and intentionality.  Time requires us to slow down and think.

Over the next few weeks I will post some of the items that I’m going to be giving.  Hopefully I can inspire others to do the same.  If we all scale back the monetary spending but ramp up the time spending, I think we’ll make an impact on what Christmas is really about: sacrifice and love.

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