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The holidays are full of fun events and lots of wishing going on for gifts desired. My boys have a long, running list of things they’d love to receive on Christmas Day. However, if you look around you there are many for whom the holidays are not such a happy time. Grief levels seem to spike as people long for loved ones long gone or quite possibly lament that life has been especially rough for them.
During this time, our family usually makes some extra charitable donations and participate in outreach to others through groups. My older boys and I have helped with meal distribution at the annual Thanksgiving Blessing which showed them just how appreciative people can be for what others might take for granted, a turkey dinner. This past weekend had our Ladies Group putting together “Beanie Boxes” full of winter accessories like gloves, hats and scarves as well as basic toiletry items and snacks for the homeless who visit Bean’s Cafe in Anchorage. Sometimes the younger boys come with me to the meeting and help with putting the boxes together. Parishioners are so generous as evident of the piles waiting to be dispersed into boxes.
However, this year I had it laid on my heart to come up with a way to bless a family who has had many struggles this year, but is always so giving of whatever they have to others. I find that an attitude of gratitude always ends up having me feel blessed in the process of giving and teach that to my boys.
Until he crossed over to Boy Scouts in February this year, D was in a small Cub Scout den co-lead by the parents of one boy in the den. As our church didn’t have space for dens to meet on a regular basis, they opened up their home for den meetings with the boys and several of the parents super cozy in their living room. In addition to the den meetings, this boy’s mom also oversaw the advancement job for the Cub Scout Pack and when no one stepped up to run the Blue and Gold Banquet this year she did so as a ‘parting gift’ to the Pack. You can see the decorations in the room behind the boys waiting to do their last Presentation of Colors as Cub Scouts.
I am so appreciative of all the time and resources they so generously gave to the boys in the den. D’s experience would have not been the same without them at the helm. He especially formed a bond with the dad who was willing to have him over at other times to diligently work on projects involving art or wood working. Through their self-less actions they demonstrated that you do not have to be flush with financial resources to give something to others (as your time and expertise can often be more valuable than money.)
When I saw a post earlier this month by this mom that she was wishing for firewood (as they don’t have the budget for it right now…it is CRAZY expensive in Alaska) to have a fire burning on Christmas, I started to feel a tug to do something and spoke to hubby about surprising them with a small bundle of our own wood stash, from felled trees in our yard 2 years ago, so they could have a fire for at least that day.
Then, I became more inspired to see how else we might bless this family who has blessed us in other ways through the years. Meat is awfully expensive here in Alaska (including bacon which can be upwards of $10 for a package at the local store), but I picked up a package of bacon on sale for them because I know they like it. And I have been gathering other items throughout my recent grocery store trips as well to help them stretch the food budget further.
Somehow we ended up with extra copies of a few family friendly movies in the house and I am making a family movie night bag for them to enjoy ~ popcorn included! And, I decided that some awesome flavored chewing gum from Extra for their family to share as I know how much my boys and I love to chew gum. (That’s my secret to avoid eating tons of high calorie, yummy popcorn at the movie theater.)
The boys have been helping me pull this all together and I can hardly wait to surprise them later this week with our bundle. They know something is coming as I was asking some questions about food allergies and their favorite flavors of gum. I am hoping they have their wonderful Christmas village, all handmade including personalized buildings with family member names, set up by the time we visit. I thoroughly enjoy seeing that expression of love and a reminder that money doesn’t buy happiness.
I’ve also started pulling together teacher appreciation gifts, which will include a pack of Extra gum as well other edible goodies. My 6th grade son’s teachers are awesome and put so much into making learning a fun experience. With just a few days until Christmas break begins, I’d better get busy finishing all the gift bag compilation!
How do you show an attitude of gratitude during the holidays?
Do you have a favorite flavor of Extra gum?