Sunday, November 18, 2007

All I want for Christmas is...

I spent time yesterday tidying up the house, vacuuming, dusting and organizing things. This is the most fruitless chore of my week. No matter how clean things are, they will get dirty again and the task has to be repeated and repeated. There are too many "things" in our home, souvenirs, knick knacks, decorations, etcetera that we have accumulated in the last half-century.

With Christmas coming, the question is asked, "What do you want for Christmas?"

Nothing please!

But that answer does not satisfy most askers. Buying out of obligation is such a stressful trap. At work, gift exchanges are popular and as I work in several areas, I could be involved in a number of $10.00 gift exchanges for gifts that will be re-gifted or thrown out.

Last November I wrote a post on this same topic called Christmas Frenzy. And I wrote about a gift I received from my sister-in-law that was very meaningful. I received a catalogue in the mail this week called Gifts of Hope from Plan Canada. This charity has a number of projects that a person can donate to that would make a difference in the life of someone in a third world country. Here are few of the many options available...

$40 for goats in Nepal provides milk and income for a family
$300 for cows in Zambia and Ghana provide the same benefits
$30 buys school books for one child in Sierra Leone
$30 buys equipment for a physiotherapy unit in Uganda

None of us would want to donate to a poorly run charity so it is important to investigate how the organization is run and what percentage of the funds raised actually go to the project. Some projects sound good, but are not culturally sensitive.
Here are a couple of investigative links.

Charities and Giving, A Revenue Canada site with information on assessing charities.
Charity Navigator, an American site with many interesting links.

Happy Shopping! Now you know what I really want.

Here are a few more links from people who commented on this post.
Heifer International
Farm Africa
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance


  1. I always dread my work Christmas exchange! We always say get something good for male/female but somehow The last two years I ended up with that one girl product (lucky some have been willing to trade)! You seem to have a great idea!!

  2. I find it hard to tell people what I would like. It's either things like shirts (which hardly excite the givers) or expensive items (which they can't afford, and I don't expect them to). Perhaps I don't have enough needs or wants.

  3. My dad & step-mom and we have been doing this for several years.
    They give a donation to MCC in our names; we give a donation to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in their names. A good way to remember the season (and its true meaning) and to help out worthy causes.

  4. I've been avoiding gift exchange for years.I just think it creates more stress than joy.Donating to a good charity makes sense.I'd actually prefer to donate to an individual family-perhaps someone who is dealing with a serious illness.-good idea Ruth.

  5. I think that's a wonderful idea too Ruth. I have often used Heifer International to gift people in honor of birthdays or passings, and it does your heart good to know that someone else is being helped.

  6. I agree--great idea. As people get older it's hard to know what they could possibly want/need, and as I get older, there are mighty few things that I want/need. And nothing more useless and meaningless than a gift given out of duty.

  7. I agree! Who needs another candle or box of candy?

    Your Christmas list is a good one. It's a wonderful idea.

  8. We gave up buying turkeys years ago. The kids never liked the taste of them and I found that the organic, bronze-feathered birds were so expensive we opted instead for a plump chicken and send the money we'd saved to Farm Africa so that a family over there could have a clutch of chickens
    And our Christmas chicken tastes so much better now!

  9. Anonymous6:49 pm GMT-5

    Winter Solstice is more about sharing love, peace and joy with those I love. Those are the best gifts of all. But I have to admit I am pointing everyone towards my baby registry this year (those little people are spendy!)

    I love when people give charity donations as gifts. What better gift then that which improves others living conditions/lives?

  10. Anonymous6:50 pm GMT-5

    Hey now Mary, I am a candle maker. Sorry if you get one of mine! /jk! ;-)

  11. Ruth! This is wonderful! Thank you.
    I'm so with you on that matter of chasing dust off STUFF.

    It's so good of you to take the time to share this idea and the links.

  12. Monarch- The last one I participated in, I got my own gift back!

    AC- My husband wants undershirts and socks again this year, and a new boat. We don't have any "needs" for sure.

    KGMom- A great giving tradition,for sure. Thanks for the name of another charity.

    Larry- Our community has Adopt-a-family at Christmas time too. One of the floors I work on is taking donations for a family, but they are still having a gift exchange too! :-(

    Jayne- I will add the link to Heifer International to my post.

    Peggy- You are right. At a certain age we reach a saturation point for "things". I have reached it for sure!

    Mary- I definitely don't need the chocolate...

    Mouse- Thanks for another link. Farm-Africa is a British organization that handles similar donations.

    Jaspenelle- You are not old enough to be saturated with things. With your new place and a baby on the way, you actually need gifts. Have you mailed candles to Canada? Your candles are consumable and are all natural and non-toxic...a great gift.

    Cathy- Thanks...It is gratifying to give to someone who really needs something.


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