A Christmas Change

With Christmas behind me for another year, I’m starting to rethink the traditions that I have developed over the years.

A typical Christmas Eve involves a church service (the one this year was fantastic) followed by driving around looking at Christmas lights and then spending the evening with family doing SOMETHING together. This year we played board games, which was a lot of fun and something that I hope to keep going in the future.

Then in the morning breakfast is had and then presents are opened. We then embark on watching Christmas movies together and then eating a Christmas meal. Usually someone has gotten some sort of fun gift that the entire group can play with or watch (video game or board game or movie).

There are other little things through out the holiday season, like making spiced tea and apple cider and ting-a-ling cookies.

I love Christmas. I love shopping for people and buying the perfect “something” that I know will bring a smile to their face. But as I start to think about how much Christmas has changed for me since I was a child I’m beginning to rethink what my role in Christmas should really be.

BF and I both discussed not giving presents this year to each other and instead volunteering at a food pantry together. It was a great idea, but by the beginning of November all the of volunteer positions had been filled at every place within 30 miles that I could find.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about giving my time to others. I have been given so much and I don’t give back as much as I should. So I’ve decided that I need to rethink giving of my time. An obvious way is to volunteer weekly at a homeless shelter. There is one in town that partners with my university and may be an excellent way to get myself integrated into a time giving routine. I know I could be used efficiently for menial things like cleaning tables, prepared bulk mashed potatoes, etc.

I also know that I could help people learn to develop budgets or help children with their homework in math and science. There are many places looking for volunteer tutors to help adults with GED exams and job placement. So I may see about doing something like this instead since it is far more closely aligned with the work I currently do and is something I’m naturally more talented in. But… is it just me or does serving food feel more “volunteer-like” than helping an adult learn to do math? Maybe it is just my own personal  bias on the situation.

So what does all of this have to do with Christmas?

I want to give of myself to an organization for the next year on a regular basis. Assuming I still find the organization worth-while I plan on sending out a “Christmas card” in mid-November to all of my family members  stating that this Christmas I plan on not giving gifts, but instead giving that money to those less fortunate than we are and encouraging them to do the same. The money I save each month for Christmas I’ll then donate to the organization that I work for (or another one that I feel appropriate at the time). Giving both my time and my money for a good cause. I’ll then ask that my family members/friend – in lieu of gifts to myself – to donate their time or money to the same organization or one of their choice.

I think knowing that the focus is on others and not on “material” things will make the season more special. Enjoying the time I have with others rather than the things they give me or the things I give them. Do my family members really need these things I give them? Not really, if they truly wanted them they would buy them for themselves. But does a homeless man or a battered woman need a place to stay and a hot meal on Christmas? Absolutely.

It is time for a new Christmas tradition – one that lasts all year round.

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3 Responses to A Christmas Change

  1. karen says:

    But… is it just me or does serving food feel more “volunteer-like” than helping an adult learn to do math? Maybe it is just my own personal bias on the situation.

    Food related services are easy- minimal commitment. Someone spends a day cooking, serving, boxing. Teaching would be more of a commitment as you might be instructing the person/persons over a period of time and a lot more interaction.

    I’m not knocking the food services volunteering, either. When I volunteer, it’s the manual labor services I tend to do.

  2. jpkittie says:

    Good for you! That is an amazing thing to want to do for 2011

  3. Pingback: Imagine 2011 «

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