By: Paula Walter
Every year I struggle with what to give family and friends for Christmas. There are years that it all seems to fall together, but as we get older and our children have become adults, it seems to be more of a chore than a joy to choose gifts for them.
This year, once again, I’m at a loss. Christmas in our house when our three sons and daughter were young was hectic and chaotic. To be honest, it was pretty wild. There was wrapping paper and bows flying everywhere with my mother-in-law in the middle of it all trying to salvage any Christmas paper she could to use again for next year. The trick was to tread carefully so she didn’t step on a toy hidden underneath boxes and bows. I’m surprised we never lost anything in the midst of the chaos and mayhem. Somehow we managed to find everything under the mounds of wrapping paper.
The kids have grown up and are scattered all over the place. It’s not as easy to know what they want or need. Sometimes getting ideas from them is like pulling teeth. They like getting gifts, but to find out exactly what they are interested in sometimes becomes a battle.
It’s become pretty predictable on Christmas mornings and there isn’t a lot of excitement as they open socks, pajamas, robes and slippers and various flavors of beef jerky. So this year, I am going to give them a list of charitable organizations where we can make a donation for them in their name. I’m not sure how it will fly with them, but something tells me they will appreciate it. They all have kind hearts and are generous in helping others. My goal is to be able to find local organizations in the counties where they live so the donation in their name will make a positive impact on the lives of families in their region.
What if we all challenged ourselves to reach out and lend a hand to someone in need? In our county alone, there are organizations where you can make a donation to help someone with their heating bills. Check with the electric company and any of the companies that sell propane or oil in our county. You will find them eager to help you make life better for someone else. You can pick a name off a Christmas tree and buy gifts for a child here in Johnson County. It’s easy to make a donation to a local church that runs a local food pantry, or pay for someone’s groceries who are behind you in line at the check out. Stock your cart up with bologna and cheese and bread, or peanut butter and jelly and fruit and take it over to the local community center. Flo Bellamy feeds many children in our county and donations are truly welcomed. SONshine and Reign holds a Thanksgiving dinner each year and its mission is to feed the hungry in our hometown.
Check with your church and see if there is a family that needs a helping hand. Pay for someone’s meal behind you at the drive-thru at any of the several fast-food restaurants in town. Be creative. You may know just the person who could use a friendly visitor and an offer to take them to town. It’s not about any recognition; it’s about helping our neighbors and friends.
We aren’t going to remember all the Christmases in our lives. I don’t think we’ll forget ones where we reached out and gave from the heart, be they friends or strangers.