In the past I have been involved in the wretched gift exchange. Hate them. I think I was traumatized as a kid when I took a gift for an exchange and another person didn't. I was the one left without a gift. It happened again years later, although the gift did arrive a few days later. The person who drew my name "forgot" to bring the gift to the party.
It was at that point that I decided never to do a gift exchange with acquaintences. I felt it was more important to actually donate to those in need. A few dollars in the Salvation Army kettle, our homeless shelters to put on a dinner, donating gifts, mittens and food to the Christmas Exchange for families not able to make ends meet. It makes more sense to me. I feel a bit selfish at times that I don't do more for others.
A few years ago, when I was still a stay-at-home mom, I was a driver for the Cancer Society and drove people to either radiation therapy or chemo at the hospital. I didn't take any money for the gas unlike a lot of older retired men who drove to make money. One lady and I became friends and we would get together for breakfast occasionally. She would tell me about the other drivers and how they would complain about the cost of gas and she would ask for me when I was available. She had radiation therapy 5 days a week. The Cancer Society provided drivers for 3 or those days and they were on their own to arrange the other two days. Another lady I drove once a week was in her 30's and had to take 3 buses to the hospital for her radiation on the other days. She was an immigrant and had few friends in the city who could drive her. I loved those few months and had to stop when I went back to work. It was rewarding to do something for others and not expect anything in return. A gift in itself.
I know I don't do as much as I could for others and that will be something I will try to improve next year. Giving to others be it monetary or just being a good friend, sister, wife, mother, blogger can make a difference we can never measure. We see it everyday in blogland when we get a great comment about our progress. And yet one negative response and we are devastated for days. I have worked hard to surround myself with positivity and won't get sucked into the toxic people or situations that can pull us into the depths of despair. I think it is also why I always watch "A Christmas Carol" to see the transformation of Scrooge from a codgy old man to one who lives a full and rich life. I want that.
Each year I set up my little Nativity figures. Baby Jesus is a tiny little guy and I sometimes forget to pull him out of the styrofoam pocket where he lives for the rest of the year. But out he comes and I rearrange the figures so they are just right. Here was a tiny little baby and great men were bringing gifts to him. Poor and homeless. Even 2010 years ago we were helping those in need.
Well guys, that concludes my thoughts on gifts and giving. I love the phrase, it isn't what you get, it's the thought that counts and really that is the truth.
(Except presents under the tree are nice).