Monday, November 11, 2013

Making Sure Our Holiday Giving is Healthy Happy Giving

There's something that's been on my heart for a long time now.

Something I want to share but at the same time I'm a little afraid to share.

Afraid of being misunderstood or having you think I'm saying something I'm not saying or even thinking I'm hard-hearted and selfish.

With Christmas coming and all the giving opportunities we have I can't help but look around at where our society is and wonder, have we given to much.

Maybe it's not that we've given to much but maybe given for the wrong reasons, maybe selfish reasons and in the end we may have caused more harm than good.

It makes us feel good to give so we do. We like to help people who we think need it, but what if we help to much.

What I mean is this, do you know the verse in the Bible that says, "Better a dry crust eaten in peace than a house filled with feasting and conflict?"  (Proverbs 17:1)   I'm not talking about the conflict part of this verse but the dry crumb part.

I'm saying maybe sometimes it's better to let a man have a small Christmas that he and his family can afford than to run in and take their Christmas over.

Maybe it's better for a societies children to learn that sometimes there won't be a lot but what we have we worked for. Maybe it gives them the gift of pride and self-worth.

Please understand I'm not talking about cases of dire need I'm talking about a case where a  family may only to able to give one or two gifts to their children and we think that's terrible.

The truth is it's not terrible.

Many of us were raised that way or with even less, but listen to the stories that go with those times. You don't have to listen long to hear the pride and the character that was built.

Our wonderful time of plenty has clouded our vision. It's made it easy for us to help so sometimes we reach out to help but when we stand back and look we see while we wanted to give we have stolen.

We've stolen a families sense of pride, maybe even their thankfulness and contentment.

Again, please don't hear what I'm not saying, I am not against giving at all but I am saying we might want to take another look at how we give.

We may want to work on praising a family for doing what they can and providing the kind of not only Christmas, but clothes and warmth and food for their family that they can with the work of their hands and sometimes that takes the whole family working together and that isn't a bad thing.

So many of the things that give people the grit and integrity we admire we're quick to want to take then we have seminars and meetings on how to fix our society's problems.

Again, I'm not saying don't give but let's not steal either.

Lets not give to the point that we weaken those we want to help.

There are harder things in life than a lean Christmas Tree, actually when you think about it a lean Christmas Tree can turn into something much more beautiful than a fat one.

I say all of that to say this, while you are looking for families to help this years remember there are more ways to help than one.

Encourage and praise the family that you see doing what they can with what they have, while we do need to help one another and be there for one another we do no one a service when we're to quick to always remove their struggle.

We steal their story when we do that and like I've said before we all need a story of I remember when to look back on and tell.

It's where our character is made so maybe if we think we need to see more character today we need to slow down on taking every ones hard time from them.

Maybe that's the best gift we could give.

I can say this because there was a time when my family was a family that you would have thought needed help.

Things were hard for us. The bottom had dropped out of the hog market and what was a barn full of money one day wouldn't pay the bills the next.

We struggled but we made it, now things are better. We have a story. Our children have a story.

Now if and when as they marry and struggles and hard times come they will know how to get by, they have lived through it.

They will know that if you have to shut the heat off in all the rooms save one and you all sleep in the one room that's the warmest and you are the one paying for the heat in that one room it's not a bad thing.

They will know how to be thankful for one room they can heat instead of the others that they can't. They will get up and work everyday doing what's before them to do and one day they won't be shutting rooms off.

They will have worked through the hard times and they will have been earned the gifts of grit and integrity.

Make sure that your giving isn't just giving for the good feeling make sure it is giving with a good return.

Make sure you are really helping a person up and not keeping them down.

Again I'm all for healthy giving and sharing of  what we've been blest with so Happy healthy giving to all of you.


  1. Kelly, I know this was tough to write but you send a message that so many people do not think about. We all are so use to our own idea of what a "perfect" Christmas should be. There is so much unnecessary waste shared by many and it's almost as if though some are just trying to help those with less waste have more waste. By waste I mean, candy canes that go stale come spring, unused presents, etc. I helped out with a Pack a Backpack campaign this fall and my reasoning was that I always had really cool school supplies and I wanted another child to have the same experience. Regardless of the cool supplies, he/she is still going to get the same education. My whole reasoning behind why I wanted to help was not the right reason. It happens to the best of us. Like you said, sometimes we think we are helping but really, we are just setting the bar for expectations. Things that I once saw as goals/items to work for as a luxury are now becoming today's standard's. Smart phones are perfect examples.

    I love your writing Kelly. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you and you added so many things in a way that I couldn't. You are so right I like the way you said "with less waste have more waste." Thanks so much for sharing your heart and thoughts. I appreciate it more than you know.

  2. I loved your post, Kelly. I can understand what you're saying because our family went through hard times too (as most families have). Around this time of year, I quietly reflect on those hard times & remember what we went through and what we did to survive (pay bills, feed our kids). The stories of hauling wood on a toboggan so we could heat our little home, coming home from a Christmas get-together to find a wet facecloth frozen on the side of the tub (it was 37 degrees in our house). Getting hand-me-downs from the family who lived near us (great Christmas dresses for our girls), saving for gifts and not using credit cards. It built character in us and our children & made us realize how resilient we could be in bad times. It gave us memories that we smile about now ~ I'm glad that we went through what we did so that we have those memories to reflect on & to pass on to our grandchildren. Thanks for helping me to remember..............Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours.

    1. Your comment made me cry. I felt your heart as I read. I felt like I knew you. I think that just gives proof to what we're all saying, when I read your story I heard my story. Your heart touched my heart and we're both better for it. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving as well.

  3. Meredith/GreenCircleGroveNovember 11, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    Beautifully said. "Let's not give to the point we weaken those we want to help." Amen and amen.
    I've heard so many people "our" age say, "we were poor, but we didn't know it."
    You've said this just right, and I love you for your honesty and courage to say it.

    1. Meredith I think we have just got to get together one day. I don't know maybe meet in Ohio or something. I love your heart. Thanks so much for commenting!

  4. I understand what you mean as well. When my sons were 5 and 2, their Dad was in a very serious accident. He couldn't work for several months. This was about the time my MS was diagnosed so I wasn't able to work either. It was really rough, we had to lean on friends and social service agencies just for the basics. We were prepared to tell the kids there would be very little for Christmas, although they were so young we weren't sure they would understand. I got a call one afternoon from my doctor's office, one of his nurses wanted to know if it would be okay for the office to make sure the kids had a Christmas, I tearfully accepted. Somehow the project snowballed and by the time Christmas came there were so many gifts it was too much of a good thing. I put some away for their birthdays and slipped a few to our minister who was collecting things for another family he knew in dire straits. I am now a single parent and the boys are pretty much grown. They know the budget is tight and don't ask for much. There may not be much money but we are blessed in many other ways. And that is okay. ~ Angelia

  5. There was a time a few years back while I was caring for my elderly mom and still working full-time that I was on the other end of this giving. On Thanksgiving Eve some of my neighbors, also members of my church, stopped by with a box of food... everything you would need to fix a complete holiday dinner and leftovers for a week. I wish someone would have asked first as I was not poor, by any means (as opposed to now - lol), and had already purchased all the food we needed and wanted for the entire weekend. Plus there were 2 more turkeys in the freezer from the local grocer who offered a free one with some specific purchase. I know their hearts were in the right place... but it sure made me feel awkward knowing that the people I thought were my friends saw me that way and it made me question my lifestyle, choices and self-esteem for a bit. But because I was always taught that serving others brings needed blessings into your life right along with the idea that if you are unwilling to receive that service you are denying someone else a blessing they need I swallowed my pride and was gracious about accepting their gift. Then I secretly spent the rest of the evening calling around to find someone who could really use it! I also learned to ask before just jumping in and trying to force what I think someone "needs" on them because so often we rush to judgement and we are wrong.

    1. Something like that happened to us to Kathy and I remember thinking the same thing. I totally understand what you are saying.

  6. Growing up a less than financially rich farm kid I remember many winters of Mom moving us all into the frontroom to sleep because that was where the wood stove was. The winds sure would howl around the house on that hill!! We had many lean Christmas's gift wise but we never lacked love and honestly we were (and still are) much richer emotionally than most I know. People today equate Christmas with material items, with a designated amount of gifts under the tree. I never remember Mom and Dad ever having any help assistance wise but they still managed to feed 3 more family members that were in desperate need. Mom said "that is what family does, that is what good people do". I think today people think if a kid doesn't have a bounty they have a bad holiday. In turn society sits back and wonders where the spoiled takers and moochers come from when in reality too many parents are creating them!!! We should extend our hands to help those in need but we should never think we are "creating" them the perfect holiday because in reality we all see life and perfection in different ways!! Love your posts :)

    1. Great thoughts I'm so glad you shared them. You worded it perfectly especially the "creating them" part. Thanks for sharing your memories and your story with all of us I appreciate it so much!