The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer

toys-for-tots

Image courtesy of: Toys for Tots, www.toysfortots.org

Growing up, I always had the best Christmases. I never wondered if there would be presents under the Christmas tree. I realize,  as an adult, how extremely lucky and blessed I was to not know that feeling as a child. And because of this, I could look forward to Christmas morning.

For the past few years, I have chosen to donate toys to Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots is a non-profit organization run by the US Marine Corps as a way to provide hope to underprivileged children through gift-giving. They provide toys and gifts to children ages 0-12. I believe it is one of the best, large non-profits out there. According to Charity Watch, 80% of its funds go to its programs versus overhead costs.

Every year, I look forward to going out and buying toys. My mom is the one who began donating to this charity and inspired me to do the same. I usually try and buy toys that I either played with or would have liked to have as a kid. I spend months leading up to the time when I can actually go out and buy toys getting excited to shop for those kids who wish for an amazing Christmas. I get so much joy walking up and down the aisles, I feel like a kid again. I love the feeling of knowing that the Toys for Tots kids will at least have one toy to open on Christmas day.

If you are like me and had a privileged childhood, please think about donating a toy this year. Or if you were once a kid that could have benefitted from this non-profit, consider being responsible for the light in a child that was once you, and donate a toy if you’re now able. Even one toy can change a child’s Christmas. (With Black Friday approaching, now would be the perfect time to buy. Also, Target is having 30% off all toys this Saturday, November 19th, so check it out!) Look for a drop site to donate here. Or click here to give monetarily. We could all stand to spread a little Christmas cheer.

I’m getting a little old and a little out of touch on what’s popular, so if you have a young one, give me some ideas on what to buy this year by commenting below.

 

Living Life Compassionately

compassion

When was the last time you did something selfless? When did you last see the opportunity to do something amazing for someone other than yourself? For someone you did not know? Did you take it? There are countless ways we can support the lives of others and make their lives better. By bringing others up, doesn’t mean we bring ourselves down. We can all rise together.

The other day, Avery called me a bleeding heart. The definition of a bleeding heart is “a person considered to be dangerously softhearted”. (I won’t get into the reasons why he called me a bleeding heart because I don’t want this post to be about what specific things I’ve done in the past but rather what we can all do moving forward.) I don’t view myself like this whatsoever. I think about all the times that I could have done more to help whether the recipient would have been another adult, a child, an animal. When I see people out in the hot, Texas sun selling water to raise money for some cause or event, I want to buy it all. I have this constant, nagging need to help. In my mind, why should I have this nice car, sitting in air conditioning, with the ability to go down to the store and not worry about having more than enough money to buy myself food when I know others are doing their very best and are still struggling?

I’m privileged. I may not feel privileged every second of every day because we all have our own problems and bumps in the road, but when I sit down to really think about my life and how I’ve been brought up, I am very grateful for the life I have been born into. I didn’t ask to be born healthy. I didn’t ask to be born into a family that never had to struggle to put enough food on the table everyday. I didn’t ask to be born with the opportunity to go to college. But others who aren’t born healthy or who don’t have a promised meal everyday or who never had the opportunity to go to college, they also didn’t ask to be born with these problems.

No one asks for the life they’ve been given. This is the perspective we need to use when learning that we all have something to give. Whether it’s time or money or gratitude, we can all stand to show a little more humility in the life we have been handed. And we can all stand to show a little more kindness and understanding to one another. This world has more enough evil; we need to fight it with the love in our hearts.

(photo credit: Aaron Alexander, https://www.flickr.com/photos/asalexander/3190479939)