My husband is an unabashed geek and being technologically savvy is the bread and butter of our existence, but we try to keep our kids as unplugged as possible. So they don’t have hand held devices or even the Wii, and the little screen time they are permitted is more than slightly policed. Scratch out video games, for the time being anyway.
- Buy gifts for needy children through the Angel Tree project at the parish. You can also volunteer to help wrap those gifts as a family, or deliver them to homes.
- Visit a hospital, or the elderly at a nursing home as a family or offer to serve a meal at the nursing home close to your home or a soup kitchen. Our family sings Christmas carols at our local nursing home, and it’s a beautiful way to share the love of Christ on His birthday. Many are lonely and without family on Christmas Day.
- Sign up to deliver Christmas dinner to the needy, or have your children help you stuff grocery bags to deliver to a nearby food bank.
Gifts of Worship and Prayer
- Attend the Christmas cantata or concert at your parish as a family, they are usually free!
- Share an extra adoration hour as a family
- Visit a “living nativity scene” and bring some neighbors or friends along to witness the true miracle of Christmas. This is a very special experience for young children!
- Read the Magnificat as a family and write about your reflections, take turns faith sharing with your friends or family.
- Attend the Advent penance service as a family
- Sing Christmas Carols in your neighborhood. Talk to a few neighbors ahead of time so they know to have egg nog and cookies for you, or at the very least go out of town 😉
If you’d like to do spend your money in a way which can bless a family or community, there are numerous non-profit organizations which devote themselves to breaking the cycle of poverty in underdeveloped nations in very innovative and effective ways. These are a few of my favorite organizations. You will be amazed what a few simple U.S. dollars can do for a family across the world.
- Work of Human Hands Sale sponsored by Catholic Relief Services– Purchase Christmas beautiful handcrafted gifts by artisans from impoverished nations. The money you spend goes directly to the person who made your gifts! Also, you can even set a sale up in your own parish! Visit www.greatergift.org website.
- Heifer Ranch International – End world hunger by buying a chicken, or a rabbit, a tree or a cow for a whole village to share. For just a few dollars, you could help feed a whole community of people, who will then be able to save their wages to send their children to grade school and eventually college. http://www.heifer.org/
- Christian Foundation for Children and Aging – Catholic organization for sponsoring children and the elderly http://www.cfcausa.org/
- Make a donation to Catholic Relief Services to help bring aid to people facing true crisis, here in the States and across the world, such as those still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. (www.crs.org)
Peace be with us all at the beginning of this Advent season. As we prepare our hearts to enter the mystery, let us all be inspired to believe that our prayers and our actions can make small miracles happen that may ripple throughout the world at Christmas, and continue in the New Year. Let us give ourselves permission to quietly step back from the frenzy, and invite others to follow us, because we have something far more important to be doing.
Let us look to the manger for the greatest gift of all and remember what He asks of us. Love, and more love.