Tis the Season to Give.

82523813-hands-holding-gift-in-kraft-box-on-a-red-background-the-concept-of-st-valentine-s-day-weddings-engagAs the holidays are upon us there is a lot of talk of thanks and giving. After talking to my sister at length about frustrations she is having with her five kids and trying to figure out how to help them give without the constant gimme. I figured I would do a post on giving thanks. It is the season.

Here are some ideas for all of us to get us into the GIVING SEASON. It is a beautiful time of year and when we give even more of ourselves, the magic spreads throughout the season and even further throughout the whole year.

I have done numerous posts on this subject, so please check out some of my older posts during the holidays.

Here are some additional ideas:

MAKE A MEAL that MEANS SOMETHING: Last week my daughter and I took a few girls & leaders from her school to a local children’s medical center. We were gifted the opportunity to make a meal for the families whose children are staying at the hospital. It was a humbling experience to see over 80 people shuffle in with various faces, from a variety of places. So many were just gracious, exhausted, some had a deep sadness and then there were some who seemed full of hope wearing shirts that said, “Happy” and “Love.” I actually commented to the people that I loved seeing so many shirts with happy thoughts. It was a sea of people doing the best they could with where they were at. We saw little kids in tubes, a little one so swollen her eyes were shut closed, another running down the hall with an oxygen tank. It was eye opening to see kids in a hospital, but still smiling because they were running or driving a plastic car backwards. The Dad driving the car backwards smiled at his son and me observing and said, “Sometimes you will go backwards in life.” I smiled and said, “At least he is still smiling.” The Dad smiled and agreed. Another sweet moment, a little boy in a hospital gown, about two-years-old entered the kitchen where we were making the food and beamed with a huge smile & looked down at his feet. His Dad commented that his son wanted to show us his new slippers. We all looked at the little boy and started quickly commenting on how cute his new slippers were & he just started smiling and growling at us. We all laughed in joy together. His father asked us if we would mind singing Happy Birthday to his little son. We were happy to. We totally surprised the little boy when we all chimed in and boomed a big version of Happy Birthday for all to hear. The little boy smiled so big. Joy was all around.

VISIT A FOOD BANK: A couple of years ago we were financially struggling. In our entire marriage we had never needed to ask for financial help, let alone for food. It was a humbling time that hit me again this year when my daughter and I visited a local food bank. As we sorted bins and bins of food for distribution, it took me back to the time when we received food from a pantry. I placed food in boxes and wondered where they would go, who would be in need…I know we were truly grateful for the giving resources that so freely gave to us in our time of need. I still have a couple of cans in my pantry that remind me of that time. You never know. It is so easy to take things for granted, but You can’t take things for granted. Give thanks in all you do.

USE A TALENT TO GIVE: My sweet daughter for years has found gently used cloth dolls & some did not have the clothes, so she would knit for hours to make a dress or a scarf to fit the dolls. We would then package them neatly & leave a special note from one child to another. What a sweet gift to give.

While talking to my sister today she mentioned one of her young sons she struggles with loves art. I told her maybe he could make some artistic Christmas cards or notes that could be given to foster kids or angel trees, etc. A card from a kid–another kid would love that. Use a talent you have to touch another.

GIVE 12 DAYS TO SOMEONE WHO IS ALONE: Put together 12 stories, or 12 cards to write, or 12 activities to do (word search, puzzle, movie to watch, something to color, etc), or 12 events to attend…now, when I say SOMEONE WHO IS ALONE, you could think old widow or you could also think someone who just got out of foster care or who doesn’t have any family nearby.  In the past six months I have become very close to a young girl who has not even been out of foster care for a year. She is not close to her family, so I am giving her 12 days of various things (Important Questions to journal, Items to keep her cozy, Events going on around town, a gratitude guide, Coloring pages, Soup recipes and Stories, A book to stretch & grow, etc)     FInd someone nearby that you can touch with a 12 days of something good.

WISHING ROCKS: As part of little gifts we are giving this year we decided to make some wishing rocks for those we love. We sat down the other night and painted rocks with words (Love, Peace, Joy, Hope, Courage, Faith, Belief, Light, etc) and we put a little note that said, “Take what you need. Day by Day. Made with Love”  Some of those rocks we made for a sweet family friend whose Dad is dying of cancer. You never know what people truly need, but making something with love is a good start.

I HOPE these ideas have inspired you to get out and give of yourself. It makes the season even more magical for everyone. Fill the world with love and light.

xoxo May your holidays be beautiful. Peace and love to you.  -H

 

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Give because WE have been given much

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This time of year makes me truly reflect on the many things I am grateful for. I think my heart gets to a place of deeper meaning, of stepping more outside of myself and wanting to do more for others. I think we all begin to feel this sense of holiday spirit. We gather with our families, grateful to have family. We see fall colors and are grateful to be given the gift of seeing. We see the seasons change and are grateful for change within our own lives. We sit together and give thanks.

I know for me, I especially want to do more, to serve, to be an instrument in God’s hands, so I decided that I wanted to create a list of opportunities for all of us to GIVE, because WE have all been given much.  I hope you will look at this list and find an opportunity or two that your family can embrace together. I hope you will find a little more service this holiday season, so when you are sitting down with your family, your heart will be even more full of giving, of love and grateful for the abundance in your own lives.  Peace to all of you this beautiful holiday season.

Some fun ideas to share with your families:  Spread the LOVE. If there are some ideas you like—share them with your friends and family and make the chain of LOVE even bigger.

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Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child.  I LOVED this idea because it is not hard to do, benefits children around the world and will bring smiles to all who open.  You literally fill a shoebox with small gifts for children and then send it. You can even pay a little extra $ to track it and discover the destination it is going. I think it would be a great project to do with your family just before Thanksgiving. The drop off dates are just before Thanksgiving Nov 16-23. Check out the link to this great project. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/

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Create No-Sew Fleece Blankets for groups like Project Linus, Wrap them in Love, Stitches from the Heart, Binky Patrol to name a few.

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Make cards to send some LOVE: make cards for kids in the hospital http://www.cardsforhospitalizedkids.com/make-cards.html  Write a letter to a woman with breast cancer at http://www.girlslovemail.com or fill out a letter online to servicemen at http://www.forgottensoldiers.org/write-a-soldier/

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Donate items for The Hugs Project: They are looking for a variety of items including handmade christmas ornaments and stockings, food items, socks, etc. They create care packages for troops http://www.thehugsproject.com   here is a link to the full item list of what they are looking for http://www.thehugsproject.com/care-package-items/

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SoleHope: Makes shoes out of jeans for Kids in Uganda. http://www.solehope.org/who-we-are/

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Make a dog treats for a local shelter: here is a recipe from the Humane Society http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/eating/recipes/animal_treats/bowser_biscuits.html

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Make place mats or decorate lunch bags for Meals on Wheels http://www.doinggoodtogether.org/bhf/blog/six-ways-to-help-meals-on-wheels  Make sure you contact your local area to find out their specific needs.

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Make something homemade to help: Here is a list of handmade items that are accepted by a variety of charities.  http://www.handcraftingwithlove.net/charity/hcharity.html

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Make a bird feeder to feed the birds in your backyard–that is giving too!  Here are some directions: http://www.marthastewart.com/270700/pinecone-bird-feeder

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Well, I hope these ideas get you started to giving of yourselves even more during the upcoming holiday seasons. Remember, it is easier to give with a grateful heart.

Peace to you. -H