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How to Celebrate Christmas Without Gifts

Updated on March 16, 2017
The author's four daughters chose not to have a Christmas to help others.
The author's four daughters chose not to have a Christmas to help others.

Why not any presents?

“We don’t want any presents this year, Mom,” my daughter told me on the phone. It was a statement that could only induce one answer. “WHY?” “Well, we know it’s been a hard year for you,” my daughter continued, “so we have a different idea instead.”

It hadn’t really been a hard year. My baby daughter graduated, my oldest got married and numerous relatives and friends graduated, were married and had babies. It was year of celebrations. So it really wasn’t a hard year, but it was an expensive year.

Living on a single income can be difficult in this day and age, so I was open to what my daughter had to say. Their idea was skip buying for each other and pool our money instead to buy for a needy family. We would spend less and help someone in the process. Everyone was on board. My father jumped in as well and so did my X-husband.

An organization in our city provided choices for a family and we were able to choose a family with a working father, mother and two sons, the youngest of which was gravely ill. Their list was meager and asked for things like clothes, boots, a gas card and an electric heater. After hearing their story, no one seemed to mind that there would be no gift exchanging this year.

The love of family is the greatest gift.
The love of family is the greatest gift.

How do I know who to give to?

When giving to a needy family the question arises, how do I know they are really needy and aren’t just double and triple dipping? Here are some ideas for double-checking:

1. Use a local agency and make sure the agency screens the family to prove the validity of their story.

2. Use referrals. The needy family we decided to help was referred to the agency by school personnel, but referrals can come from family and friends who know of a family that may not be associated with an agency. Last year we provided some small gifts to a local family we knew personally had a need.

3. Check with your local church or a civic group like the Knights of Columbus. These organizations are often privy to those in need just because of their saturation within the local community.

Presents await their delivery to a needy family.
Presents await their delivery to a needy family.

What are the benefits?

One of my daughters recently noted how “stress free” this holiday season was due to our special project. “Do we really need another sweater or scarf?” another said. It has truly been a season of exploring the true meaning of the holiday.

And on Christmas Eve, the organization will send Santa to anonymously deliver our gifts to this needy family and we will gather, after church to celebrate the love of family and the blessings bestowed on us during this special year of celebrations.

Challenge Poll

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    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Behr 5 years ago from NW PA

      Thank you, Mary - what really touched me about it was my daughter's (the youngest is 19 - the oldest 29) came to me with the idea. Of course, when they were little, I didn't have a dime to rub together (hence my article "The Squirrel Years". Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Mary Merriment profile image

      Mary Merriment 5 years ago from Boise area, Idaho

      I love this idea. It's much more feasible, of course, when the children are grown up. There was a year when we had help like this. It was so beautiful. Since I can understand how it feels to receive such simple needed items in such tough times, I think I'll make myself a memo to have all of my family join in this sort of thing for next year. Very inspiring.

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Behr 5 years ago from NW PA

      Hi Janelle,

      Thank you! Yes, it's been a very special year for us and my daughter's and I have been so touched by our family's story that we wish we could be a fly on the wall Christmas morning. Thanks for sharing.

    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 5 years ago from United States

      This is an excellent idea for christmas and other families should try to help in this way. Thanks for an awesome hub. I have devoted my giving to families in need during christmastime. It feels wonderful.