It would be en vogue to write a column eschewing the material gift giving of the holidays.
There is certainly a call every year for less stuff, and more spirit, at Christmastime.
While I agree, a lecture on that topic wouldn’t be especially practical, or honest. The average American adult is expected to spend $786 on gifts this holiday season, according to a Gallup poll.
While combined my husband and I won’t spend that much, gifts are a fun part of our families’ holiday traditions.
I actually I love getting presents – although I feel like that’s something shameful to admit in public.
It’s nice to receive a special treat from someone who cares about you, especially when it’s an item that you never knew you might want but will enjoy.
This is the case with a fantastic pair of fuzzy, teal socks I received from my “Secret Santa” at work on Friday.
They made me feel both happy and cozy all weekend long. Even though I never would have gone out and bought myself a pair of polka-dot socks, they were perfect.
I think the key is to show gratitude and love in a way that you can afford. We set limits at our house for holiday spending and we don’t buy anything we can’t pay cash for now or handle paying off immediately when the credit card bill comes due in January.
I also know that makes me pretty fortunate that I can think about what gifts to give, rather than worrying if I can afford to buy any at all.
Thank goodness there’s an army of holiday angels in our community who are filling the gaps for families that have a hard enough time covering their basic needs, never mind Christmas gifts.
One of the great bonuses of my job is that I get to see the people who commit their time to these great causes and the behind the scenes operations that are furiously taking place all month.
There’s a long list of them both locally and throughout the Twin Cities: Toys for Joy, the Anoka Christmas Committee, TLC Toys and the Family to Family Network are a few I’ve been lucky enough to see the inner workings of and share their stories in our ABC Newspapers.
Last December I wrote about the Family to Family Network. The day I visited the Anoka Covenant Church where the operations are based, I was overwhelmed by the commitment volunteers had to make sure each name on the lists was receiving something they wanted or needed.
I was also wowed by the generosity of the community who took time to carefully go out and buy gifts for their assigned family.
So it was an honor this year to take my young son shopping to pick out things for our “adopted baby” and his mom this Christmas. I’m happy to report my 2.5 year old is developing real enthusiasm for gift giving.
I’ve been in the scramble of paying utility bills, deciding who gets paid on time and which one might have to wait past due until the next payday comes around.
But at that time in my life I had nobody to provide for but myself and I had family to fall back on if I really needed it.
That’s not the case for many of the people who need our help, not just during the holidays, but all year long.
So thanks to all the people who take time and means to donate, to the workplaces who organize to support adopted families and food shelves, to those who are stepping up to help a large number of teens struggling with homelessness in Anoka County.
You are all doing your best to be a blessing in the community. And that is the greatest gift you can give.