November 21, 2014

Holiday Cheer

We're less than a week out from Thanksgiving which means that Christmas is just around the corner. I'll admit, I can be a bit of a Scrooge this time of year. This is due in part to Seasonal Affective Disorder and the view that our society (and families in general) have become very materialistic and have lost sight of the true spirit of the season. It's also an end-of-year stress response and the realization that another year of my life is gone in the blink of an eye. Not to mention, at my age, I'm happy just to eat and spend time with family and have the opportunity to watch It's a Wonderful Life and the Jim Carey version of the Grinch once or twice. 

And to top it off, it's the idea that I don't really need anything else but if you buy something for me I'm going to feel obligated to return the favor.

I'd rather not give gifts and it has only a little to do with being frugal. Christmas shopping is not something I am particularly good at. I can buy myself stuff all day long, but come around to buying other people presents that are useful or creative or effortlessly thoughtful? Well, I'm not particularly gifted. Gifted. 

You see what I did there?

It just isn't my forte. I try to be funny or clever with my gifts but sometimes that backfires. I would much rather get someone something they want or is very useful but it seems like "toys" for kids and adults are all well into the hundreds of dollars each and I just don't have the dough in my pocket for those kinds of expenditures.  So I try to make gifts whenever possible. But sometimes I run out of money anyway. Or creative ideas. Or glitter. All occasions are equally sad.

But this post isn't really about all of that. It's actually because there is an exception to this Bah-Humbug mentality that I have and I thought I would share it with all of you, in case you feel this way too. It is the one holiday tradition that is something my current and previous workplaces have done and it's actually a really great concept that even I can appreciate. Here, it's a charity called Families Helping Families and is part of the Palmetto Project Organization in South Carolina. Our office requests to fulfill Christmas for a family in need and this year we've got a doozy (single mom with six sons. SIX. BOYS. Holy wow!). We break up the family unit by assigning each child to a division and buy gifts based on the list that is provided complete with ages and sizes. Normally the kids will ask for a toy or two, but most of them request new clothes or a coat or sneakers and the fact that they may not otherwise get these items motivates me to haul out the holiday-happy.

This year, I offered to purchase a winter coat for one of the boys and in my searching I found a great deal on Amazon for a Full Zip Fleece Jacket from Columbia Sports. As a previous owner of one of these coats, I highly recommend them. They're great if you need a light jacket, but they are also warm enough that you can wear them out in cooler weather. It doesn't get too cold down here, so this jacket seems ideal and is well within my budget. Honestly considering getting one for myself and the women's version has even more color options. 

I don't know why the guy's head is chopped off. 
That's Amazon's fault.

I think that this program has helped renew my faith in Christmas giving a little bit, so I've been perusing potential (affordable) gifts on Smile.Amazon* and Greater Good. Smile.Amazon has all the regular items you would purchase from Amazon, but a portion of eligible sales go to a charity of your choice. They fund everything from Doctor's Without Boarders to World Wildlife Fund to St. Jude's Research Hospital or you can choose your own. 

The Greater Good site donates to causes like World Hunger, Breast Cancer Research, Animal Shelters, Veterans, Literacy, the Rainforest (and others). You can click along the top of the page to change the cause and shop based on whichever you choose. They also have a function that I try to participate in once a day - pressing on the "CLICK HERE" button across the top of the page. Sponsors for the websites donate to the charities based on the number of clicks the site receives and it doesn't cost the consumer anything. Freefreefree and for something good. Who WOULDN'T choose that?

If you're in the Christmas (or Chanukah or Kwanzaa) spirit and are going to do your shopping online, I highly recommend both of these sites. It won't cost you anything extra (not even time) and it's all for a good cause. Even if your family isn't celebrating with gifts for each other, consider "adopting" a family for the holiday season through an agency in your area. [Make sure you do your research because scams: they are a'plenty. Check with your local United Way or Churches in your area for program recommendations.] 

You could make this the best holiday yet for a family in need - and that is certainly something to be cheerful about.

Happy Holidays Y'all. 


*Smile.Amazon is not an affiliate sponsor of CastleDIY.

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