Disclosure: This post about Christmas Giving was sponsored by Red Cross Canada. As always, all opinions in this post are my own.
Christmas is almost here. It boggles my mind how the first week in December is already over! How did that happen. I think part of my confusion is that I am currently staying in sunny Florida. December doesn’t seem quite the same when you are wearing shorts after so many years in Calgary! This year, I am trying to have a simpler Christmas. Less stuff and more family time and giving. You see, Christmas giving holds a special place in my heart.
For those of you that don’t know, I grew up without a lot of the things that I currently have in my life. My parents got divorced when I was 8. As the years passed, they both got remarried and started new families. I lived with my mom, her husband, my brother and my sister (from this marriage). Her husband and I did not get along (an understatement) and I ended up moving to a foster home. My foster family was amazing and I still stay in touch with them today. This was the first big example of giving in my life. My foster family took me in and gave me a safe and happy home.
I was in the midst of the prime awkward teen years during my stay with them. I had thick glasses and terrible hair. While I realize that looks aren’t everything, a little help in that area was VERY needed. My first Christmas at their house brought another example of giving to light. Someone I had met in the community, who knew I was a foster child contacted my foster mother and asked if they could pay for me to get contacts so I could get rid of my thick glasses. I remember being so excited and grateful. To this day, I still don’t know who gave the money for my contacts.
As a child who had been through so much upheaval in the last few years, going to high school without those awful glasses was a huge change. It helped me forget that everyone in my small town knew I was living in a foster home. I eventually went to live with my dad but I never forgot what my foster family and that stranger gave to me. I have tried to instill the love of giving in my son so that, together, we can help others who are in similar situations.
Because even if you’ve never understood “giving back” because you don’t feel you were given to at any time….realize that either you were very lucky not to need it or realize how much that help could have made a difference if you had received it.
Christmas Giving Ideas
Adopting a Family – One of my favourite ways to give back are to adopt families at Christmas. I can remember receiving Adopt-a-Family gift hampers at my mom’s house years ago. Sharing the Christmas season with a family can be heartwarming. Reading their wish and want lists can be a reminder of how fortunate we are (and how many of our “needs” are actually wants). This option often works best for work groups or large families the adopted families often have multiple family members.
Giving to Your Favourite Charity – Many charity organizations have special Christmas giving options. For example, Red Cross Canada allows you to “build” survival kits supporting the causes you find most dear. You can build a complete survival kit for $200, or choose an individual dollar amount or a gift such as 2 blankets ($15) to help keep refugees and migrants warm. Nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day around the world. You have 3 international options and 3 Canada options. PLUS Aviva is currently matching all funds donated (up to $30,000 total) so your gift is doubled. Plus you can feel good about your gift because 91.3 % of every dollar spent by Red Cross Canada goes directly towards program expenses.
Spread a Little Cheer – Don’t forget that a little giving goes a long way. Evan and I love buying coffee for the person behind us or sneakily paying someone’s tab at a restaurant. These little gifts can go a long way to make someone’s holiday season a bit brighter.
What is YOUR favourite way to give this Christmas season?