How to Celebrate Christmas Without Gifts
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.
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.
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.