Dec 17, 2014

Giving Back

Last week Jared and I ventured out after work one night to do a little Christmas shopping. Not just your regular 'ole shopping, but shopping for people we'd never met. Our church does one of those "giving tree" things around the holidays where they encourage people to take an ornament off the tree and help a family in need. Most of the families or individuals on the tree are in a tough spot in life and definitely don't have any extra money to spend on gifts. The gifts from others might be the only ones they get this year.

I don't talk about this to toot my own horn. In fact, I'm here to share quite the opposite. When Jared and I met up right after a long, pretty annoying, day at work I just wasn't in the Christmas spirit. I had been looking forward to shopping for this family, but once the time had come it was hard to feel excited about it. I was tired, I was hungry and after all- it's not like we have loads of extra money. We're trying to pay off our debt! We don't just have tons of extra cash, but here we are spending money on people we don't know.

What a horrible attitude right? Jared and I disagreed about what to get the family multiple times before he could tell something was up. I admitted that because of my bad day, my heart just wasn't in it that night and I felt like we were spending too much money at first. Jared, bless his soul, heard me out and spoke carefully but convincingly:

"You had a bad day, and that does stink. But you were getting paid for being there. And you had a car to get you home safely. And dinner waiting on us back at our house. And boots to keep your feet dry tonight."

My mind:  Crap. He's so right.

He continued, "It may seem like a lot of money right now, but think about this family actually opening these gifts. Think about how the very simple things they asked for will help them enjoy this season a little bit more."

It's true- they asked for socks, shampoo, aftershave, a new pan, some kitchen utensils. I was humbled as I realized that the things they want for Christmas are things I take for granted. Things I can easily pick up anytime I want or "need" them. It was the reality check I needed, for sure. I was able to finish up the shopping and wrap those gifts with a joyful heart that evening. I hope you'll use my bad attitude on that night to remember the families and friends that are less fortunate than you. I hope you'll give back in some way, no matter how big or how small this year. Tis the season!

22 comments:

  1. Gahh, you're kind of reading my mind today! There is a family in our town that some are rallying around to provide not only Christmas, but basic life essentials... they have NOTHING, are about to be evicted, etc. My heart absolutely breaks for the kids and I'd be glad to give them anything. But, even though I SHOULDN'T judge and I know that... it's kind of hard not to. She's a single mom and she refuses to work so it's like if we help her out now, what happens in another three months when she's behind on everything again?! And then on FB you see all.the.time. that she's out with friends at a bar. So it's difficult... I'm a single mom too so money isn't always easy to come by... but I look at my kids and the things they'll find under the tree this year and know that I should help this family. But it's hard to w/o passing judgement. Ahhh, I think I need Jared to give ME a pep talk... haha! Glad his spirit brought yours back!

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  2. I had a similar experience a few years ago, when we did an Angel tree. I was brought to tears trying to find a lil Lego Ninjago for a kid, because that was the only thing he asked for. And by goodness, he was going to get it, even if I had to spend $50 on it. It's all he wanted....and so I made it happen.

    I try to give as much as possible this time of year, to help those in need.

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  3. Isn't it funny how all someone has to do is say something so small but have so much meaning to make us realize stuff sometimes? This happens with me and Matthew sometimes, different situations but same meaning. I am so thankful Matthew is so patient with me during those kind of times. I'm glad you were able to finish shopping and wrapping their presents with a joyful attitude, it really does make a differance! :)

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  4. Yes it's so so sooo true!! So proud of you and the change in heart by the end of the night. Like you said, it's so easy to get wrapped up in our bad days and we forget how little some people really have. That family will be in tears over your generosity, I'm sure!!!

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  5. A few days ago I was talking to my 12 and 16 year old daughters about a service project they needed to plan and implement to earn their Religious Award. As we were talking, my 12 year old said "You know, Mama, we look rich to the homeless." She's right. We have a roof over our head even though it's not our "dream roof". Our clothes may not be name brand but they are weather appropriate. We have 3 meals a day. We may not have all that we want but we have all that we need which, unfortunately, is more than what some have.

    http://italianbelladiaries.blogspot.com/

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  6. I am so humbled when I look at the wish lists and see ONE toy and then socks and underwear. I'm glad you had a change of heart and that you had someone with you to talk you back to reality.

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  7. I have felt the same way before, but it's so true - just imagining the families opening the gifts makes all the world of a difference!

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  8. It always feels great to give back! Sounds like Jared did a great job to turn the mood around and look at it from a different light.

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  9. GAAH we are twins. I adopted 3 families this year. Got totally overzealous but all of their stories spoke to me. Anyway. This morning I packed up the baby and went to Kohls to get their gifts. Was totally not in the spirit. I was kind of sour I had to tote the baby along with me, started wondering if I should be spending as much money as I did, couldn't figure out how to navigate my baby carrier, diaper bag, lists, and a ton of crap with the tiny carts at Kohls. Then I started thinking the same thing. The diaper bag I have or the baby carrier alone cost more than I was spending on the families (embarrassing), and you can believe I didn't think twice about buying those bad boys! Such a wake up call.

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  10. This is so true for me this year too! We don't exactly have tons of extra money either, (trying to pay off debt as well!) and I tend to be a worrier about finances, so it can be hard for me sometimes. As much as I love to give, I also worry about spending too much. But what Jared said is SO true and I know I just need to check my attitude and my fear and keep the right perspective. We are SO blessed, how can we not share with those in need?

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  11. Erin,

    What a great reminder about perspective. I love your husband's words of wisdom, and that you heart is soft and able to absorb the truth of his words. What treasures both you and your husband are!

    It is so easy to let a bad day change our moods and perspectives. Thank you for this beautiful reminder!

    -Lee Ann

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  12. This is beautiful, girl. I totally appreciate your honesty about feeling grumpy at first. It's amazing how lucky we are, even when we don't feel that way. Don't you wish you could be a fly on the wall when the family opens those gifts?! That melts my heart to think about. You're a rock star with such a big heart!

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  13. Love this post - what a great reminder! Your husband sounds like a wise person. :-)

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  14. I think it is great you shared this, sometimes the stress and demand of the season can drag you down and you start doing things out of obligation instead of love. It certainly helps to take a few bites of humble pie and realize how grateful we all should be for the things we have. And kudos to you guys for doing something so wonderful for complete strangers!

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  15. I organized our giving tree at work and by golly, reading all the gift requestswas truly humbling. Bed sheets, a winter coat, sneakers…This year between my family and Peter's family, I felt like I was spending so much and I didn't know if I should pick off an ornament. And not that my own families won't be appreciative of my gifts, I just know these families in need, it's going to mean the WORLD. I think it goes back to the golden rule too - if I was in need, I would so appreciate the extra effort someone did for me!

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  16. Oh sweet girl! We alllll have those attitudes and bad days! But man, that husband of yours is a keeper! But don't worry, he's just as lucky to have you as you are to have him ;) Honestly, I love hearing these stories because it keeps it grounds me and brings things into perspective.... it reminds me what this season is truly about!!

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  17. i always love reading your blog!! beautiful. xoxo

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  18. What a wonderful idea! This time of year is always tough money wise, but such a thoughtful gesture by you and Jared!

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  19. aw this made me so teary. i would have totally felt like you, but generally i guess i'm a bit more selfish naturally. we don't make a lot of money, i dont want to waste it. but for them to ask for such basic things that we take for granted - so lovely of you for doing this!

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  20. I love that you have a husband to remind you about things like that! We all struggle with giving sometimes and having someone close to us speak truth and encourage us is so important! Love your honesty friend. Happy holidays!!

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  21. Awwww you both have wonderful hearts. Well done and happy holidays!

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  22. I read this post 2 days ago and keep thinking about it. Your point that really hit home was people asking for necessities as their WANTS, and it's things you and I don't think twice about purchasing. How very humbling. Such a great reminder for those of us who are so very fortunate this Christmas season, to give to others what we take for granted. Merry Christmas to you and Jared!

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