For myself, I find Rememberance Day is always a prelude to the Christmas season. As much as I love Christmas, I hesitate to totally embrace the 'season' (not the meaning!) until we've paid our respects to those who have served our Country faithfully. As I relfect on the sacrifices they've given - often their lives - in a fight for peace and goodwill, I am reminded of another ultimate gift and ultimate sacrifice - for those of us of the Christian faith, the basis for our every belief, the birth and ultimately, sacrifice, of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the subject of life and sacrifice in terms of those in service and the advent of the holiday season also celebrating life and sacrifice is what ties these occassions together in my mind.
While we sit cozy in our homes, with our Christmas trees, stockings stuffed and tummies overflowing, there are so many who do not get to celebrate in a warm environment, who do not get to experience that feeling of peace, joy and goodwill.
Casting Crowns has a Christmas song, I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day, that gets to the heart of the matter. I'm not sure if it is their original song, but the lyrics just remind me that even though there is suffering in the world, and we may not be living in a time of peace, God is still the cornerstone of Peace on Earth and He still cares for each and every one of us.
All this brings me to the title of my entry today. I think it's time to (and I know you do!) think outside the box... when you're wrapping your gifts and you're tying yet another ribbon, when you've written so many Christmas cards your hand begins to cramp, when you fill your belly with a warm meal, sip at your hot chocolate while wearing your flannel jammies, sitting in front of a warm fire with your loved ones around, when you stand up on Rememberance Day with a poppy on your lapel, a hand on your heart, what sacrifice have you offered? What have you been willing to do to promote peace on earth and goodwill to men?
There are faith-based and secular national and international organizations alike that offer a number of programs (and I'm sure there are a number local to your communityas well!) that reach beyond Walmart to offer inspirational gifts this Christmas season. My extended family in years past have, rather than exchanging gifts, pooled money into a group fund and donated to charity in the family name.
Last year, we personally purchased farm animals through Samaritan's Purse for my nephews, who obviously did not see the farm animals, but had a little notecard tucked into their stockings to remind them that Christmas is more than getting - it's all about giving and sharing that precious love. It's reaching out to mankind, here or abroad, and remembering that it's more than tinsel and gift wrap and yet another toy.
Kaleb's teacher will be getting a candle from Bath and Body Works this year because, hey, after spending day in and day out with (20) 4 and 5 year olds, a girl deserves something nice. We'll also be purchasing school supplies or a gift card from one of the organizations below to give on her behalf.
I just remind you that even though we may not be laying our lives on the line everyday, we may not be fighting to make this world a better place, but that doesn't mean we can't do something small to influence the life and well-being of someone outside our social circle. Make a hamper for the local food bank, find a family to sponsor this Christmas, check out with local adoption agencies or womens shelter to see if they have needs for a care cupboard or Christmas parties (i.e. Jewels for Jesus in Mississauga) and instead of stuffing those stockings with yet another plastic toy, why not slip in a donation card from one of the organizations below?
Please note that we have not sponsored all of these organizations, nor do I necessarily endorse them... they are just the ones I could remember and you can also do a quick Google search for "Sponsor A Child" for similar programs.
- Compassion Canada
- Christian Children's Fund of Canada
- UNICEF Canada
- Samaritan's Purse This is who we purchased our animals from last year but I had to make my own gift card. They do offer an ecard though. Also, they are the brains and manpower behind Operation Christmas Child - the shoebox collection program.
- Operation Homefires (a gift collection program for Canadian soldiers)