Every Fall I purge our house. From top to bottom, I go through everything and either donate, discard, or recycle it. It’s a chore that I like less and less every year, particularly when it comes to my children’s rooms.
This year, I was appalled by the number of items I found in their room that were unopened, not used, or barely touched. To be clear, I was not appalled at my children, but at myself. You see, every Christmas I run around at the last-minute looking for something – anything – to fill their stockings with. I feel I’m going to let them down if I don’t have their stockings brimming with gifts.
Who set the bar that high? That would be me. Despite the fact that I preach giving more to charity at Christmas, those darn stockings get me every time. The sad reality is that 75% of the items that I purged from their rooms were stocking stuffers. Items picked up with no thought or care, just the quest to indulge and fulfill some stupid notion in my head that it’s not Christmas unless there are a ton of gifts accompanying it.
This year, we’re giving up the stocking stuffers. The one emotion I could not escape while I was purging their rooms was guilt. Aside from the waste of money, resources, and time there was something tugging at me a little deeper. I could have done so much for someone in need and instead I chose to purchase stuff that deep down I knew would not be used.
It left a sick feeling in my stomach when I realized the money I spent on that useless thing-a-ma-bob could have helped feed someone. That plastic doo-hickey could have provided a vaccination. It was then and there that I decided that this year the stocking stuffer madness would end.
Of course, now that I’ve made an executive decision about the stockings, I need to mention it to the girls. Surprising them Christmas morning may not be the best course of action. So here’s how I plan to break it to them.
We’re going to talk about last Christmas. What do they remember? What gifts stand out in their mind? I’m betting what comes to mind is memories of Christmas Eve with their grandparents and making snow angels after a Christmas morning hot tub. Unless I went back and looked at photographs, I couldn’t tell you what I got them last year. I will ask them point-blank what they received for gifts and when they can’t remember, we’re moving on to the next step.
I’m going to open up the World Vision Catalogue on my computer. My girls are very familiar with the World Vision Catalogue since it’s where we typically pick out gifts for teachers each year. I suspect we’ve saved many mugs from landfill over the years and I know the teachers are always grateful to receive a gift with meaning. All that aside though, we’ll be going through it for another reason this year. We’re going to look at gifts that will make a difference like food, medicine and fruit trees and I’ll ask them if they think the children we could help would remember receiving those gifts?
I’m going to pull out the letters and updates from our sponsored child Djamila and remind them that she is but one of millions of children who need our help. What could we give up to help more children like her?
This is where I’m hoping the previous three steps link together nicely for them. I’m going to announce we’re giving up stocking stuffers this year! Yay! And they’ll rejoice and say “Oh Mother, thank you so much for showing us the way!”
Okay, maybe not. A mom can hope, no?
I suspect I may have some resistance. I really can’t blame them at all. I was the one who set the standard, and so disappointment will be natural. I do know though that my children are very sympathetic creatures and that by involving them in the process they will come around to my way of thinking. After all it’s hard to ask for a thing-a-ma-bob when you know you could be helping make someone’s life better.
I’m already feeling better about next year’s Fall purge. I know that the gifts I give this year in lieu of stocking stuffers will not hit the trash, be unopened, or unused. World Vision has a presence in over 100 countries around the world. Just think what a difference we could make if we all gave up stocking stuffers this year.
I am thankful to World Vision for sponsoring this post. The offer to write this came just as I was starting to purge. I am happy to be reminded of what truly matters at Christmas well before it gets here.