Last year our church got involved with this idea called Advent Conspiracy. If you don't watch the video (but please do!), it's about giving more "presence" instead of getting wrapped up in the stress of the Christmas season. The website says it best:
"Christmas can [still] change the world.
The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.
So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.
And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?
What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
Welcome to Advent Conspiracy."
I'm thankful for my parents' families, who have for years given to charities instead of exchanging Christmas presents. Whoever is hosting the Christmas dinner gets to choose which charity to give toward and presents the organization to the family. We also do a little five or ten dollar gift exchange and have some fun with that. There are so many opportunities to give to people in need during the Christmas season. This year Micah and I purchased some toys and hygiene items for Operation Christmas Child boxes, so we gave one for a boy and one for a girl. Our church took a mission trip this past summer to a village in Bolivia, so we are raising money to dig a well for clean water for that village. Our church also has "giving trees" that we can use to give towards to help families in our area, purchase things from World Vision for people in need, or help with the International Justice Mission. All are very worthy causes and powerfully help people who are less fortunate.
We're still working on what it means to us to spend less, give more, worship fully and love all. We have so much to be thankful for.