4 In Holidays

Christmas is for Giving: Spreading the Joy with Extended Family

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  The candle has been lit, the streets are white with snow, and the sound of Joy to the World still echoes in my ears from this morning’s church service. 

The Christmas season has begun.

Hubby and I have been busy making Christmas lists, planning celebrations, and I have at least ten homemade projects already on the go.  (Tutorials for evergreen Christmas wreaths and homemade envelopes will be up on Artisan in the Woods soon!)

But as much as I love the bows and ribbons, papers and cards, decorations and gifts, I know Christmas means so much more.

And as family begins to ask us what we want for Christmas, we are reminded just how very blessed we are in that our lists reflect beautiful things that we want, because we already have everything we really need.

It was out of this feeling and understanding that a new giving tradition has been born in my extended family. 

Many extended families have become creative with gift giving over the years.  Gift swaps, drawing names, gifts for kids only, gifts for the whole family to share, homemade gifts only, and card parties are just a few of the ways that families I know have chosen to celebrate the season of giving with each other, and as a way to lessen the number of gifts each family member needs to buy.

In my extended family, we decided that rather than trying to fill stockings with our wants, we would instead come together to help meet the needs of others.  This endeavour has had us shopping for Christmas dinner for families in need, giving gifts to those who otherwise wouldn’t have any, sharing gifts of love and handmade items to those who struggle through the season, and putting our hands and hearts into serving others.  Even my young nephews are involved in the gift-giving and love-sharing.

And this giving to others is also a gift to each other.  A gift of time spent together doing something worthwhile.  A gift of counting our blessings together and knowing we have more than enough.  The gift of watching the children among us grow in their understanding that Christmas is more than Santa and gifts under the tree.

When we come together as an extended family for Christmas dinner we may not be passing each other shiny-wrapped presents, but we share in the joy of the season and allow time spent together and warm embraces to be our gifts of the day.  It has become one of my favourite parts of celebrating the holidays together.

 It came without ribbons,
It came without tags,
It came without packages, boxes, or bags.
Christmas can’t be bought from a store…
Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

~ Dr. Seuss 
How do you share Christmas with your extended family?    

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  • Reply
    November 27, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    With our extended family (on my father’s side) we do a homemade gift exchange. We are to spend $25 or less and make something. We draw names on Boxing Day and also do the exchange that day.

    We also try and see everyone’s tree each season. We go to one aunt’s on Dutch Christmas (early December), our grandparents on Christmas day and the other aunt’s on boxing day. AND my mom holds a dinner for the family the Saturday or Sunday before Christmas.

    • Reply
      November 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm

      Oh, I love the tree visiting! I always love to show off my tree! 🙂

  • Reply
    November 28, 2011 at 12:32 am

    What a wonderful thing for you and your family to do!!

    Several years ago, my husband and I decided that we no longer wanted to do gift exchanges with the adults in our families. Our request was met with reluctance at first, but our families have gotten used to it and it has really helped to reduce the stress at Christmas – not only from a financial point of view, but also from all the time spent trying to find that perfect gift for each person (when there is usually nothing they need).

    I hope that one day, when our children are no longer Santa believers, that we can help make Christmas more special for those in need.

  • Reply
    A Woman and Her Pen
    December 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    This is a good time that families should RE – INVENT the art of gift giving and indeed be REMINDED what the true meaning of the Christmas holiday is all about!

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