Christmas Giving — to Charity

The holidays are fast approaching, a time when people start freaking out about what gifts to give hard-to-buy-for family members. Money flows. For many retailers, it’s a time to make or break; for many individuals, it’s a stressful and anxious time.

I wanted to share how my family has been fighting this trend, and what we’re thinking about doing differently this year.

Many years ago, my parents started doing a Christmas donation give-away. They would allocate a certain dollar amount to each family member, and give us Monopoly money to represent it. Then we would all go through the charity giving catalogs and decide where we wanted to put our giving dollars. Sometimes we teamed up to do something like help pay for a well (which are often expensive), or sometimes just spend it on something like vaccines for kids or bicycles for girls. Continue Reading >>

Philosophy of Christmas Gifts

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking about Christmas presents lately. Not what to get my family (although, of course, I’ve done that, too), but more the philosophy and theory of gift-giving, specifically: Why do we give gifts at all?

Now, birthday gift-giving seems somewhat logical, with friends giving the birthday-ee gifts to express their appreciation for the friend’s life. Perhaps we’re using presents to say, “You are a gift in my life. Let me give back to you a token to acknowledge all the joy you bring to me by being my friend.” That completely makes sense, although since having Benji I’ve thought that moms should really get the presents on the kid’s birthday, but that a different story. Continue Reading >>

Today’s Highlights

Mom and Benji and I went Christmas tree hunting today. It was certainly different from cutting a tree in the woods, but one thing was the same: I somehow managed to get extremely muddy and dirty despite the suburbanity of our acquition location. Anyway, here are mom and Benji before cutting the tree.

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Let’s be honest, though: Benji really cared most about the tractor/backhoe combo truck, and the tractor.

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Sleeping on the Clouds

You know how mattress ads sometimes have allusions to the cloud-like qualities of their products? Well, we can do one better: For Christmas, Grammy Deborah actually made Benji a cloud toy.

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In this picture he looks asleep but is really resting his head during tummy time. Although he still hasn’t figured out rolling over, tummy time is going well, and now that he can hold his head up enough to look around, he fusses far less than previously.

Also in the neck-strength department, he’s getting the hang of the jumper seat we recently obtained. He sort of slumps forward in it (balance isn’t a forte at this point) and when he gets tired he leans his head on the straps. But he has started figuring out that straightening his legs has an effect – whoa, those lower appendages may be there for more than just random flailing! Crazy! Continue Reading >>

Merry Christmaaaaauuuuggghhh!!!

Day’s Verse:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

Here’s how yesterday started:
Christmas 2010
Ian and I woke up happy, looking forward to the day. We took this picture in front of our first Christmas tree (which we’ve dubbed the Christmas bush). We gave each other presents. I prepared some dinner rolls for the evening. We loaded up the car with gifts and defrosted berries and decamped for Mom and Dad’s house, where Colleen made crepes, which we topped with the berries, yogurt, and powdered sugar. We exchanged gifts (Colleen and Jordan gave me an enormous cookbook of just cookie recipes — I can hardly wait to get started). We gave away a lot of Mom and Dad’s money to charity (water-related charities benefited greatly this year). Then Dad and I went for a bike ride while Ian stayed home and made scalloped potatoes. Our families were coming over to our house for Christmas dinner, the first-ever Christmas we’ve hosted. Continue Reading >>

Illuminate

Day’s Verse:
Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
2 Peter 2:8-9

Christmas on Saturday puts churches in a strange position: Church the day before Christmas and the day after Christmas? No church the day after Christmas? Our church made a call and they aren’t having church next Friday or next Sunday. Instead, last night at 5:00 Journey Church had its Christmas service. Last year we attended the Christmas service, but it was only Ian’s first time at the church ever. This year, we’ve both been volunteering at church for a while — Ian doing media stuff and me doing coffee; we’re playing out gender roles oh-so-nicely — so we helped with the service last night. Turns out they had everybody arrive at Kirkland Jr. High at 1:30 pm, and the place turned into a hive of activity for the next three hours. Two other ladies and I spent most of that time putting snack foods onto plates in pretty arrangements. Ian spent that time getting to play with the bank of stage lights the church rented. I’m thinking about switching what I help with. Continue Reading >>