Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Season of Repayment

What's wrong with that title? Oh yeah, Christmas is the season of giving. Right.
pretty parcels by shimelle
pretty parcels, a photo by shimelle on Flickr.

Tell that to me when I'm trying hard to remember what my friend gave me last year and tallying up how much it must have cost...
or when I'm combing through gifts.com looking for a present I haven't thought of yet...
or when I'm shoving receipts into my empty wallet....

Giving is sometimes the last thing I want to do at Christmastime.

I do love picking out presents for my friends and family, imagining their looks of surprise and excitement, making their day with something completely unexpected. Don't we all? But then there's that niggling concept of repayment.

Some of my friends have a bit of money, others don't. I give gifts to each accordingly and try to balance it out with creative ingenuity. For the last few years my brother has given me a present worth about $20, and I've given him a $20 present.  In essence, we end up spending $20 on ourselves. That's about how it goes with everyone.

"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men." - Luke 6:35


What if we changed things up a bit this year? What if we gave to those who could not give back to us? 


This certainly isn't easy for me. I'm all for tradition, and my family isn't about to give up Christmas morning gathered around the tree unwrapping gifts from each other. But isn't it time that we did something more worthwhile with our money? There are only so many cordless nose hair trimmers that we can buy.

"But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." - Luke 14:13-14

When we say that Christmas is about giving, what do we mean? Do we mean that it's about buying presents for people who don't need them? I don't think so. Deep down, we know that it means generosity, love exemplified through sacrifice.

This is what I received in the mail a couple weeks ago: a catalog unlike any you'll ever see from a department store. The Compassion International Christmas gift catalog really is all about giving. You won't find any cute boots in here, or unbreakable dinnerware, or snazzy tech stuff.

What you will find are pictures of smiling children from around the world, glasses of clean water, the bright blue of emergency shelters, and women in saris gathered around a single sewing machine. 

For as little as $4 to as much as $5,000 you can buy gifts for people in poverty. Imagine being able to provide entrepreneurial training and livestock to a poor family, or emergency help for a baby suffering from malnutrition.

"...for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."


That's more than Kohl's and Dillard's or Sears can promise you. It means more than a couple minutes of oohs and aahs from your friends.

Last year, in addition to our other gifts, my brother and parents and I donated to good causes in honor of each other. This year the adults in my extended family are foregoing a gift exchange in favor of pooling their money to purchase something from this catalog. 

You can access the online version at compassion.com/catalog.

Maybe you and your friends and family are doing something worthwhile with your money this Christmas. How will you make 2012 about giving

4 comments:

  1. We never gave gifts at Christmastime! We've always done this type of thing- through World Vision's catalog. It's a really neat way to bless others.
    Last year was really different, my mom and I wrapped up 300 copies (that was what we could afford and usually spend total on the family) of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp to give to our neighbors, and we drove around in the middle of the night, dropping them anonymously in their mailbox or on their steps. It's really nice to hear them doing the thankfulness dare to find God in everything! In fact, one neighbor, who still doesn't know who gave it to her, told us to borrow it. "I see God in everything now!" Give the gift of joy and thankfulness! Give them a wonderful book that will change their lives! It's fun dropping books off and sneaking away, too!
    Give away what you can and Merry Christmas Abigail! :-)

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    Replies
    1. That is absolutely amazing, Linnea! What a fantastic way to celebrate Christmas. I loved Ann's book, and I can only imagine how it must have blessed your friends. Maybe I'll come up with some secret packages to leave this year....

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  2. Hello Abigail,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day! Your post here is full of wonderful thoughts. This year we're not doing as many gifts, and the gifts I'm asking for and giving are from fair trade sites or ministries like 3cords or Rafiki Exchange. That way, I am supporting a ministry and support women around the world who are coming out of slavery or prostitution. A few years ago at Christmas, my family and church packed a few boxes of gifts for an orphanage in Uganda!

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    Replies
    1. Wow, what a wonderful idea! Maybe I could get my friends a few gifts from fair trade sites.... You've given me some inspiration, Lauralea :)

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