Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spend less...Give more

During the holiday season, the words in the title don't seem to ever go together do they?  Buying gift after gift for those that you love so dearly to make sure they know how much you love them and understand the time and effort you put into buying them the perfect present...it adds up...financially and also time consuming.  But what about those that don't have everything they need to live (i.e. clothes on their back, a nice bed to sleep in, etc)?  What about them during this holiday season?

The sermon series in our church this advent season is called "The Advent Conspiracy".  We are just 2 weeks into it...but every week it makes me re-think what this season is all about.  Does my mom really need a new ginger spice candle?  I know she probably really wants one...but don't you think if I told her that instead of spending $25 on buying her a candle I donated it to the Christmas Eve offering at church that goes to kids in Africa? I'm sure my sister wants the Taylor Swift holiday CD...but she can easily download the few songs she loves from Itunes and I can use that money to donate to a child in need just down the street in KCMO.   Only a $20 donation feeds a kid for ONE YEAR in Africa (they listed little things like that in the bulletin last week).  A whole year one child could eat....a child that would otherwise go hungry...with a mere $20.  I hardly think before I spend $20.  Heck, I went to the grocery store tonight and spent $20 on dip for a party I'm co-hosting tomorrow night.  I think that my $20 would be much better spent for a hungry child's meals.  Half of the Christmas Eve offering goes to those children in Africa and half goes to kids/schools in need in Kansas City, MO.  With that money, our church provides students with weekend backpacks of food every weekend, new supplies, and has even built playgrounds.  Brand new, great and wonderful playgrounds!!  Actually, I played on one of them last week with my Youthfriend at Longfellow Elementary School.  And she loved it--she talked about how they used to not have one.  Can you imagine going to elementary school and having recess and not having a playground to play on?  Like I said, my $20 that I spent at the grocery store tonight would be much better spent on that.

So that brings me back to the ultimate point.....as this holiday season is now officially in full swing, can you live out the "spend less...give more" mantra this year?  My family and I have talked lots and do not think it's necessary to buy each other gifts this year.  I think we should instead go somewhere to distribute presents or serve a Christmas dinner.  I can tell you from personal experience, the feeling one gets serving others in any way shape or form, is much more gratifying then opening another present.  It's not like I don't like presents :)  But if it's a trade off, I would rather take that feeling that makes me feel good inside by helping others.  Last year, instead of trading names and buying people gifts in the Carter family...we adopted a family.  We split up the family members between the brothers and their wives/significant others and went shopping.  Bobby, Hillary, Jimmy & I went to Old Navy to shop for a little boy.  With only $100 we bought this little boy 2-3 pairs of pants, many shirts, a coat, etc.  All that....for $100!  And to think that these are clothes that he will wear to school, wear to play with his friends, wear to go to church and live his life...clothes that he will feel good in!  When we all go together with our presents to wrap all of them, we had a great time showing everyone else what we bought those family members we were assigned!  In my opinion, that was the best Carter Christmas ever!  The kids, of course, still opened their gifts on Christmas night like normal...but they also got to participate in the buying and wrapping of the gifts for the family we adopted and loved it!  What a great way to help a family in need and show the kids the spirit of giving :)  We are doing it this year as well and will hopefully make it an annual tradition!

It's much easier to be in this mindset when your family and friends are because no one is buying you presents and you feel bad because you didn't buy them one...however, if you really think about where you want your time or money to go this season and encourage others to participate I bet they will want to!!  Don't you?

Anyways......just something to think about as this season of giving begins!

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