What do the following have in common? Birthday parties, BBQs, weddings, vacationing at a friend's house, and graduations. If you guessed events that happen in the summer, you are correct. If you guessed events you are expected to buy a gift for, you are correct again.
In today's Share Your Story, we meet the author of Confessions of a Pastor's Wife, my friend, Sara. Sara's post reminds me of the many reasons I love Share Your Story. Read on to hear about some fun ideas and meet a new, bloggy friend.
When I first agreed to write a piece about giving for Amy’s blog, the thought that went through my head was, “You hypocrite!” I have many good intentions when it comes to graciously giving, but they often seem to fall just short of action. However, just as I was thinking these thoughts, the following memory came to me…
It was shortly before Christmas. The air was cold, the skies were dreary and we were tired of being shut up inside. Opting for some indoor exercise, my husband and I loaded up our two boys and the strollers to drive the 30 miles to the mall for some window shopping and playtime. Hidden in the back of the mall was a delightful little play area for kids, complete with a clubhouse, slide and lots of things to climb and clamber on. My husband and I let the kids have at it while we sat back and shared a soda. I’m a big fan of people watching, and it came to my attention as I was looking around at the shoppers rushing by that the only people who truly seemed to be enjoying the mall experience were the people in the play area. Everyone else seemed to be so caught up in gift-buying that the joy of the holiday was lost. Smiling, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m so glad we aren’t Christmas shopping.”
You see, for the past five years, my husband and I have been participating in alternative gift-giving for Christmas and other holidays. Instead of spending tons of money on objects that mean very little, we try to find gifts that mean a great deal to others. For Christmas, we usually buy animals for Heifer International in honor of our families. We weren’t sure how our families would take it the first year, but they loved it. One year we gave our parents stuffed animals that represented the animals given in their name. My parents named their goat Pedro and found a little sombrero for his head. Pedro had a place of honor for quite awhile atop their fireplace mantle! This past year, I stole all of my mother’s recipes and made her a cookbook, filled with anecdotes surrounding the family favorite foods represented. We’ve given to Nothing but Nets for a high school graduation gift and I donated a flock of geese for a friend’s birthday who is absolutely terrified of the animal!
Our family has found that there is a lot of freedom in alternative gift giving—freedom from stressing over gifts, freedom from over-spending, freedom to truly celebrate, and freedom to truly show God’s love to a world in need. Jesus said to his disciples, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 I don’t know that I live this out everyday, but for me, alternative gift giving is a start in that direction.
Blessings and Peace,
Thanks, Sara. Comments are closed today in hopes that you take a minute and bounce over to Sara's to introduce yourself and read more of her work. Also, if you like the ideas Sara shared about alternative gifting, check out some of these sites: