Every one has very strong feelings about Christmas.
From Scrooges to Santa Freaks, to "Christmas is Crap" to "Christmas is King".
I know I find myself, right after the sugar rush of Halloween begins to subside in our house, thinking of Christmas. Keeping with every other aspect of my life, the approaching Christmas Season is a mixed bag of emotions. Excitement over the resurrection of family traditions, anxiety over costs; delight over the early dusting of glittery decorations hitting the stores, and disgust over the dancing- bone- shaped- pet- stocking that is motion activated to blare out "who let the dogs out" in the aisle of Target. (why is this horrible excuse for a song still haunting me like 13 years later after its unfortunate and mystifying hit release?)
But amongst our sea of American consumerism, our annual new crop of crap "holiday"songs, our out-of-control-spending, the pressure we feel to buy presents for people we don't even like, with money we don't possess, for gifts they don't want, eating too much, doing too much…their rises a beautiful Christmas tradition that our home, and millions of Americans have discovered.
Its called Operation Christmas Child.
It is a simple and profound outreach of Samaritans Purse.
Founded my the famed Billy Graham's son Franklin Graham.
Send out shoe boxes filled with small toys, hard candy, hygiene products, ect.
Wrap box and lid separately in Christmas wrap.
Put in 7 bucks to cover over seas shipping cost.
Slap a label on it, indicating age and gender.
Find a local distributing center near you. (there are 1000s).
I hate to be one of those people who are like:
"You should be involved with this organization or clearly you are a horrible person". But none the less I can't help buy gently steer you:
I encourage your family to do this. Collection week is this week.
(By hitting the Samaritans Purse link above you can find if one is near you).
Millions and millions of these boxes go out each year, from all over the world, and reach children in literally the most poverty stricken and war torn places on Earth.
But there are lots of good organizations right?
We can't give to them all, to be realistic, especially when paying for gifts for your own children is such a challenge for many of us.
What is the significance of Operation Christmas Child? What sets it apart and deems is "blog worthy" to me?
For this little household it is the simplicity and the early arrival of "good will towards men" that captures my and my children's heart every November. Boxes need to be sent out prior to Thanksgiving you see, since they travel so far to so many places.
That pre-holiday buzz has just started to ring in our ears, with all its mixed emotions and feelings I wrote about above.
And then our church makes the announcement. I honestly forget about it every year.
Me and the girls go to target.
We buy little gifts, soap, toothpaste, brushes, and crayons.
Every year while we paw through their dollar gifts, buy soap and toothpaste in bulk packages, we come along at least one family on the same mission. Our eyes meet for a brief moment of mutual acknowledgement over the heads of children asking "but what if it's not cold where they live? Let's get lipstick instead of gloves".
And I just feel happy and good. (and trust me warm and fuzzy is NOT my natural state of being, folks).
I love explaining every year to my puzzled children why we would pack such lame presents as dental products.
I always ask them:
"What would you think if you found a present of toothpaste and soap under the tree this Christmas, and only a couple little toys, maybe some socks"?
You can imagine their answers…you know the point I am making.
I dare the most cynical of hearts, haters of "Its a Wonderful Life" included, to not feel an involuntary pang of Christmas cheer and goodwill as you pack these boxes up with excited children.
We get home, spill out the loot,
carefully divide the contents,
with Christmas music playing in the background of course.
To millions of children toothpaste and soap and a wooden car is not a "crap gift".
Most importantly the message is shared with millions of hopeless, hurting, hungry children, that once, long ago a Baby named Jesus came to this world. And this Baby grew to be your Saviour.
It is my deliberate concentration on this message that will help me stay the course to keep my heart light and full of peace the next six weeks; and a roomful of dancing "who let the dogs out" stockings can't compete with that.