Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Coolest Christmas Gifts

Beloved boyfriend gave me my first Christmas present last night (ridiculously early, I know, but he enjoys giving me presents and I don't hate receiving them!) It was just a cute small, little thing, but it got us talking about what we really want for Christmas and I think it's pretty cool so I wanted to share in hopes that you may adopt a similar idea.

Last year was probably the best Christmas I've ever had because I asked that friends and family members give me a certain type of gift and MAN did I hit the mother load. Through the wonderful World Vision Gifts program and the gifts of wonderful people around me, I was able to give shelter to sexually exploited girls in Asia, education for a whole year for an orphan, a flock of ducks to a family in India and food and HIV/AIDS medications to starving and sick children in Africa.

If you ask me, that's a lot better than a Kate Spade bag. As much as I wanted one (among other more practical things), it would never make me cry tears of joy the way my World Vision gifts did last year.

So this year, J. L. and I have been interacting with the local homeless community a lot and we LOVE it.  If you ever want to look at the face of Jesus, just go downtown. He's there. He's dirty and smelly and stuggling to keep warm, but He's there--He's everywhere.

This year has been particularly difficult on our local homeless community after the flood destroyed Tent City (a local community of tent-dwelling homeless who gathered there for fellowship and protection) and the incredibly unpredictable weather has made finding shelter a little harder than usual. So we wanted to figure out what we could do to love on them other than cash handouts and/or beefing up our volunteer efforts.

So here's what we've decided:

We're going to make "kits" and hand them out to homeless. We thought we'd include the following items to try to help little that we can:

  • "Hotties" -- you know those little hand/pocket warmers? They're really inexpensive when you buy them in bulk and they last for about 8 hours. I realize that this isn't a huge source of heat, but it's something.
  • Space Blanket -- If you've ever been hiking or camping you're familiar with these. 
  • Socks -- I never thought about this until I started actually talking to a lot of homeless people, but can you imagine wearing the same socks everyday for weeks/months on end? You have no idea how excited they get about clean socks. 
  • Crackers or some other snack
  • An encouraging card
We're hoping to make about 20 or so of these and take the money we would have used on nicer Christmas presents on this.

I once spent the night out on the concrete for a homlessness awareness activity. It is miserable.
My experience with the homeless community has been completely positive and I have really learned that often the largest difference between them and us is just one paycheck. They're good, beautiful people who just need a little bit of help getting back on their feet. When you talk to them SMILE at them, shake their hands, introduce yourself and ask them their names. They're literally treated like garbage and you have no idea what your kindness means.

For those of us who follow Christ, I want to encourage you to not be afraid to actively show others that you're not celebrating the season for the commercial part (not that you're not allowed to, I love Christmas), but to celebrate the birth and love of a Savior who died so that you may have eternal life and eternal love. We need to SHOW that love. Not that you should brag or do it for recognition, but maybe give your friends a card that says "In Lieu of a Christmas Gift: I helped build a well in Africa/fed a homeless family/etc. God bless you this Christmas and may the Spirit of love and giving warm your heart." Very few people are selfish enough to throw a fit about you "sacrificing" their gift for someone who really needs it

Remember, in the end you get what you give--no matter how big or how little.

Is there anything you've done that you're hoping will catch on as a Christmas gift for those who need it? I'd love to hear about them!

"The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" - Matthew 25:40


Sarah Frills4Thrills said...

Amen, girl! I love this post : )

Michelle Schraudner said...

This is such an amazing post! You're so inspiring!

Bree said...

That picture of the man with the dog is so sad. There's a homeless man that I see all the time on the same street corner with a dog that looks exactly like that. One day in the fall, my mom bought him a coffee and something to eat and gave him a box of dog treats for the pup. Poor thing.

Unknown said...

thank you for your sweet comment! i'm now following and can't wait to catch up!
these pictures mad me so sad...i think what you are doing {kits} is such a wonderful idea and i just might do my own :)
xoxo, jamie

a whole lotta love said...

Hi Nicole,
Thanks for stopping by my blog 'Life's Little Joys' and for following :) This post is awesome. World Vision is one of my favorite organizations. I recently started two new blogs. One is called 'A Love Train' and the other is 'A Peace Train'. This post would be great for either. Do you want to check them out and let me know if you want me to post this? Glad to connect with you :)

God Bless,

Isabella Kiss said...

Nice blog! that is some powerful stuff you talked about right there. I totally agree with you.
On a random note, some of the stuff you said reminded me of books I've read buy one of my favorite Christian authors, Shane Claiborne. Ever read anything by him? I bet you would like it. He does stuff like this everyday for the year, living a life of love towards people the world rejects, like Jesus did! Check him out.

Nicole Jeannette said...

I'm so glad y'all have enjoyed this post as much as I have! :)

Isabella, yes! I really do like what he has to say. I don't always agree with him on everything, but I think that loving the poor needs to be a church thing because that's EXACTLY what we're called to do. Love it :)