1. Give Christmas Away!

When I was little, Christmas around my house was always a big celebration. Generations of my family would gather Christmas Eve for a big formal dinner. After dinner, the family would pile into the living room to exchange gifts. One family member would be designated as “Santa” and would pass out the gifts one by one. Ribbons and wrapping paper accompanied by squeals of delight would fly as one after another of the boxes and gift bags revealed the treasures hidden inside. In a short time, the living room would look like Christmas had exploded in our house.

My sisters and I grew up to host our own Christmas traditions with our kids. As they grew up we would still all gather to share a meal, count our many blessings and celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. But, as the years passed, giving gifts became more difficult. How many sets of yoga pants does my sister need? What do I buy for my brother in law? Mom and Dad don’t really need anything!

Last year, my sisters and I had a frank and honest discussion about gift giving for Christmas. We all felt so blessed to have everything we needed and wanted to set an example for our adult and young adult kids. So, we decided to start a new tradition and change our focus on giving. Why not give Christmas away? We decided to pool the money we had budgeted to exchange gifts with each other and make a generous donation to The Extension.

It was a relief to not have to spend the weeks before Christmas shopping for gifts that I knew were probably just going to get returned or exchanged and be able to focus on the true meaning of the holiday. As we gathered as a family and gave thanks, we talked about The Extension and the people who would benefit from our gift and prayed for the residents and their families. It was so nice to know that the funds would be invested in the lives of men and women who were struggling to recover their lives and restore their families. A gift that would keep on giving even after the glow of Christmas faded. It was one of our best Christmases ever!