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November 27, 2005


Julie O.

Our parish has a GINORMOUS giving tree, where we hang tags for parish families and people referred from a gazillion agencies who need Christmas presents (all done anonymously of course). We usually go and help put up the tree itself, then take as many tags as we can without looking totally nuts, and go shopping with our kids for these families and individuals. As the weeks go by, they love seeing the pile of presents under the tree grow and grow -- and let me tell you, it's impressive. Last week there were three bicycles under the tree!

We do a number of other things too -- basically our goal is to be done with Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, so we can enjoy the season together and say "yes" whenever possible when people ask us to participate in something. It might be baking 40 dozen cookies for single moms, helping with food baskets, going to the live Nativity -- whatever. I really want memories of helping others to be right up there with family and presents among my girls' Christmas memories...and memories of their childhood in general.


At our home, the relatives are all calling to see what the kids have on their Chanukah lists. Two of my boys have extensive lists, but the 8 year old-nothing. I have been suggesting that he put a few things down, but he just isn't interested in material things. Last night as I was putting him to bed he turned to me and exclaimed "I know what I want to do for my Chanukah list! Each night donate the money for my gift to a different charity!"

amy h

This is really a timely post for us as a family. We were mortified the other day when my 4-year-old refused to give his quarter to a charity collecting for kids with leukemia...he held firmly to his quarter and proclaimed, "I want to give my quarter to Target!" Oye.
Thanks for the ideas!


I was only 15 or 16 when we did this and I can't remember how my parents got ahold of the family's name, but one year my parents and sister and I basically "made Christmas" for a single mom and her two little girls. The mom didn't have enough money to have a true Christmas for the girls, so they got put on a list of needy families in our city, and we picked their name because, like us, they had two girls.

So the four of us went to Target and Toys R Us and bought so much stuff - dolls and crayons and books and the like, of course, but also some clothes for each girl (and a check for the mom), plus a big card that we all signed. We also put in some "gently used" clothes and toys of our own. Then we wrapped everything up, loaded up the car, and drove to their house and carried it in and put it all under their (skimpy, tiny) tree. The little girls' eyes got SO big, and the mom almost cried. (At the time, I was disappointed that we didn't get to see them open the gifts, but now I think it's better this way - they should get to have "their own" Christmas without strangers there.)

Anyway, that stands out really clearly in my mind, and I'd love to do it again. I think any kid would like doing something like that, especially those who are a little bit older, because they get to pick out basically EVERYTHING the kids in the family get, and they can think back on the kinds of things they liked when they were the age of those kids. (Plus they get to meet the kids!) My sister and I had a lot of fun running through the toy aisle in Target, remembering our favorite board games and such.

Sorry this is so long, but I'd encourage everyone to find out if there's a program like this in your city - it was really fun as well as being rewarding.

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