It’s been awhile since I popped in on this little space. I’ve been pouring my energy into building my art business and creating new art. I’m grateful to have a chance to pursue this vision of seeing the beauty of our creator and reflecting it to others through my art. But I do want to use this space to encourage you during the upcoming holiday season and offer an alternative to the usual hustle and bustle that is looming ahead of us.
So you may already know that I feel pretty strongly about waiting to acknowledge Christmas till after Thanksgiving, but that’s not entirely true. I actually start thinking about Christmas in late October or early November in the form of Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.
In our household, we’ve replaced the stress and expense of finding and shipping the perfect gifts, making the fancy meals, and sending out millions of Christmas cards. Instead we go shopping to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children around the world. Don’t get me wrong, those other Christmas traditions aren’t inherently bad. They are a way for many people to show love to others. But for me they were just added stress. Call me a party pooper, but the traditions of Christmas can seem like distractions from what’s really important. Giving gifts to loved ones is nice, but when most of our closets are stuffed to the brim, do we really need to spend money on more stuff? We live in a culture where even the poorest among us has access to more than many people in other cultures. Not to discount the needy among us, but to remind us that there’s a wider world out there with children who may never have access to toys or hygiene products if we don’t reach out to them.
Maybe it’s because we don’t have our own children to shop for that makes it kind of fun to walk the toy aisles and find the perfect gift. But really it could be an even more significant activity to do with kids because they could each be responsible for finding gifts for a child their age. It’s also a great opportunity to direct your children’s attention toward the joy of giving to others instead of perusing the shelves for more toys they want.
If you’re new to the shoebox game, here’s a great list of useful (and not so useful) items to include and tips for packing a shoebox. Something new this year: you can no longer pack candy and toothpaste in the boxes because of customs.
The coolest part of all of this is that it doesn’t stop at buying a gift for someone in need. It’s about Jesus. The children who receive shoeboxes are enrolled in The Greatest Journey, a discipleship program that shares the gospel with them. That’s really the point of Christmas after all. God becoming flesh and entering the world to live the perfect life we couldn’t live and pay the penalty for sin that we deserved. Emmanuel. God with us. The greatest gift of all.
If you’ve been packing shoeboxes for years, consider making it the primary way you give gifts this year. Be intentional about where your money goes this holiday season and consider giving to those who really need it, whether it’s in the form of shoeboxes or another ministry. We usually give something from Samaritan’s Purse’s Gift Catalog in honor of our families members each year as well, but there are a lot of other similar opportunities to give that you could choose from.
Join us in celebrating Christmas in October and head out to pack those shoeboxes! National shoebox collection week is November 13-17 so get a jumpstart on it this year and cross your Christmas shopping off the list!
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