Christmas is a time of gluttony and overspending but, as our mothers always said, it is better to give than to receive. True, I used to roll my eyes every time my mom said this when I was younger because I thought she just wanted to get out of buying me that Barbie I wrote to Santa about. But as I've gotten older, that message rings so true. In a time when the economy has affected most of us, we have learned to appreciate the important things in life and let the material obsessions go by the wayside.
This year, my family and I were intent on having a very simple Christmas. Usually, with the extended family, we have a Secret Santa gift exchange. However, this year, we decided to give the money we would've spent on those gifts, to a charity dedicated to providing therapy for wounded Marines. This was partly inspired by my cousin (who thankfully, just returned from his deployment in Afghanistan 3 months early) and we all agreed that this money was better spent on a great organization like this rather than a $20 itunes gift card.
Also, my boyfriend and I have decided to not do gifts for each other this year. Instead, we decided to adopt a family in need and help them achieve a Christmas that they otherwise weren't able to have. We recruited out friends on this mission and were able to collect 10 bags of food, presents and emergency funds for a single mother and her daughter, who were in dire need this holiday season.
Now that I have learned more about coupons, and shopping smarter, I have found that one of my favorite things to do with the free things I can get (or even items that only cost me less than a dollar) is to collect them in their own stockpile and take over to the food bank. My goal for 2011 will be to try and take a box of food and toiletries down to the food bank once a month. I encourage you to join me in this effort - you'll be surprised at how much giving to others turns into a bigger gift for yourself.