Doing more: Around the Holidays!

The holidays are tricky aren’t they? We want to give our friends and our families the very best and the very most because that is what they deserve. As for being on the receiving end… perhaps you find yourself in the same places as me? Without room for stuff? Worrying that your kids will be spoiled, or feel entitled to having their every material wish met, but at the same time, not wanting to be the Grinch that spoiled Christmas with mind-numbing practicality?

A relative sent our family a World Wildlife Federation Catalog and asked my girls and their cousin to get together to choose an animal to sponsor for the year. (My oldest responded “Mom says no more pets!”) The misunderstanding was cleared up and I believe the kids are choosing to sponsor a dolphin this year. (Thanks Amy–it’s a super idea!)

I also learned about the opportunity to give a gift certificate for a “micro loan” to help establish businesses in developing nations. Check out http://www.kiva.org/ for more information. You can give your loved one a $25 gift certificate, and they choose the business person who will receive it. They’ll be sent updates of the entrepreneur’s progress. Eventually the loan is repaid and your loved one can choose to either keep the $25 repayment, or reinvest it in another business.

A few years ago my family began sponsoring a little boy in Uganda through World Vision, and while we’d intended to do it for a year, we’ve kept up with the little guy who we choose to sponsor. He sends letters about every three months and we get an annual photograph. We send little trinkets like school supplies and he now seems like an extended part of our family! It’s the best $30/month ever. I’d rather pay Mugugga’s school tuition than the phone bill any day!

Other organizations such as Ahope For Children (An organizations that provides for the care of HIV+ orphans in Africa) or the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America provide gift catalogs of items that also benefit their cause. Ahope has lovely sterling jewelery, and coffee, and ELCA offers a program where you can give your friend a goat, which is donated to a community in need of a goat (saving your friend a small fortune on hay and oats…). Can’t you just read the thank-you now?

Dear Sally, I got your goat. I named him Fred. Thanks and have a happy New Year!

Just my $.02 on doing more this Christmas and preserving the real meaning of the season.