We’re all kind of terrible.

I love Christmas time. Girl Ninja, however, REALLY REALLY REALLY loves Christmas time. It’s fascinating how Christmas cheer infects society. Is it just me or do people, in general, seem nicer and more friendly from late November to early January? Why can’t we be not-douchey all the time?.

I digress.

With holiday travels, gift buying, time off from work, and hopefully plenty of entertainment and socializing with your loved ones; costs can add up quick… Like quicker than Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries.

This year Girl Ninja and I are buying gifts for about 15 people. Not because we feel like we have to. Not because these people are expecting gifts from us. But because we enjoy getting gifts for people.

As I was surfing Facebook the other day, I saw someone had posted the following image…

Ugh.

Instant guilt trip.

While I didn’t participate in (or blog about) Black Friday, I can’t help but be impacted by the picture above. Truth is, none of the gifts we’ll be buying this Christmas season are necessary. How can we buy a $30 shirt for someone from Nordstrom, but not think about someone, somewhere, that doesn’t even have a shirt?

We can’t.

We love Jesus too much, and know what he said about helping those in need, to just ignore such a big problem. Reality is, a lot of people will go without this holiday. Without clothes. Without food. Without shelter. Without a family.

While we still want to buy fun gifts for our family and friends, we don’t want to lose sight of what Christmas is all about (sounds cheesy to say, but it really is true).

That’s why, this year, we’ve decided to implement a matching system. Every dollar we spend on friends and family, will be matched with an equal contribution to a family, person, or organization in need.

How simple, yet satisfying, is that? If I buy a $100 pair of jeans for Girl Ninja, we will buy 5 pairs of $20 jeans for a local women’s shelter. If we spend $150 getting my family gifts, we’ll donate $150 to Charity Water so clean water can be brought to people in Africa. If Girl Ninja gets me that unicorn I’ve always wanted, we’ll sponsor a local family and make sure they have the best Christmas they’ve ever had.

HOW FUN (and easy) IS THAT?!

Giving money away is the best reminder that nothing we have is really ours. We are simply stewards of the resources the Big Man upstairs has given us. We’d be fools to think that we’ve earned the lifestyle and luxuries we’ve been afforded. Christian or not, there is no denying it feels good helping those in need.

Do you participate in any type of extra giving during the holiday season? Sponsor a family or a kid? Volunteer at a local shelter?

20 thoughts on “We’re all kind of terrible.

  1. For a number of years now I’ve found that for Birthdays and Christmas’ everyone always asks me “what I want”… and I can never reply with anything I actually want. At least nothing that I classify as REALLY wanting. I live just fine… why do I need more cloths/gadgets/crap?? I don’t. So I’ve been telling people to donate to charity AS my gift for a few years now. No fuss about it all… I just give them the charity name and let them take care of the rest 🙂

    As a side note, for anyone considering giving money to ANY charity please visit and read up on this website: http://www.givewell.org They investigate and find THE most worth while and awesome charities in the world. This way you know your money is going to do the most good it can.

    MM

  2. My family are horrible gift givers. They are experts at giving the most impractical gifts. I don’t want to hurt their feelings so I tell them to give to charity, I don’t need anything. I can’t buy anything I truly need myself. My family is hard to shop for because they have everything already, or 3 of everything. So I give to charity. The nice part about giving to charity is that people generally don’t complain about it otherwise they look like a complete ass. “Gee I really wanted another video game I will play for 23 hours and then never play again but instead you gave a school in a developing nation books and pencils.” If they complain, well that’s one less person on your list! Plus the gov’t matches many of my donations. Yeah!

  3. Our employer sponsors 2 single-parent families (3 kids each), and between my Dad and sister, we don’t exchange gifts; we buy toys and food for my Dad’s church drive.

    I like the idea of a matching system… that’s pretty cool!!

  4. Our church does a one great hour of sharing to raise money for those in need every Christmas as well as a gift drive for children whose families can’t afford to give them gifts. We participate in both of those, but after reading this post, I may have to step up my game this year.

    Ninja, it never ceases to amaze me how much you and Girl Ninja have it together for such a young couple. It took me until my mid-thirties to get it together, so I am in awe of you. You and Girl Ninja really do inspire me and give me hope for our future….

    • Ninja, it never ceases to amaze me how much you and Girl Ninja have it together for such a young couple. It took me until my mid-thirties to get it together, so I am in awe of you. You and Girl Ninja really do inspire me and give me hope for our future….

      Ditto coming from me in my mid-60s and I still don’t have it together. 😉

  5. >>We’d be fools to think that we’ve earned the lifestyle and luxuries we’ve been afforded.

    Did you just say “You didn’t build that”?

    Ha! :–). No political debate needed, just making a wisecrack!

  6. We did a match last year – 25% of what we spent on gifts for others we gave away. I don’t think we’ll do a match this year, exactly, because we increased our monthly giving instead last spring.

  7. I like your matching idea! My family don’t really do holiday gifts anymore (other than the occasional gag gift), but we do all buy gifts for the younger kids we know, so we could match those to a kid-focused charity. I tend to donate items rather than money throughout the year (I like having a local impact, and I don’t have a ton of spare cash at the moment). I’ve already given away almost all of my childhood things (bicycles, musical instruments, etc), but I always donate lots of groceries to the local food pantry around the holidays and I use this as my once a year closet cleaning opportunity to take any nice but seldom used clothing articles to goodwill.

  8. Great post! For the last couple of holidays I have been organizing an Adopt-A-Family Christmas Hamper Program at work. The family receives a weeks worth of groceries, toys and clothing for the kids and even a little something for the parents. I rather spend my money on people who are in need. Only exception is my parents in which I figure they deserve something nice each year! Usually in the form of an experience that they can enjoy together (ie like tickets to a show) and not material things.

  9. I am not Christian but we have other religious holidays during which charitable giving is encouraged. I tend to give more during those days but I also make it a priority to contribute during other times as well. A friend of mine had found this little girl who could not go to school because the family was extremely poor. I have been giving a certain sum of money to her through my friend ever since. She is now in 8th grade. By giving directly, we know the money goes to the cause we selected: education of a little girl

  10. I am not Christian but we have other religious holidays during which charitable giving is encouraged. I tend to give more during those days but I also make it a priority to contribute during other times as well. A friend of mine had found this little girl who could not go to school because the family was extremely poor. I have been giving a certain sum of money on a monthly basis to her through my friend ever since. She is now in 8th grade. By giving directly, we know the money goes to the cause we selected: education of a little girl

  11. That is a very generous approach as it doubles the amount you spend on Christmas! It reminds me of a movement called Advent Conspiracy http://www.adventconspiracy.org/ that really tries to get back to the core meaning behind the season. World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, and Compassion International all put out “gift catalogs” of gifts you can purchase for someone that really needs them. For example you can buy a goat for a poor farmer, etc. Sometimes we refer people to these organizations so they can buy something “for us” that benefits someone that needs it rather than something we don’t really need. I find we fill much more fulfilled knowing that we helped care for someone’s needs than getting stuff. Its also a reminder to shift our focus to the Biblical commands to take care of the poor, needy, orphans, and widows.

  12. And I now feel like Ebenezer Scrooge after reading this. More Christmas-time giving to non-family members is probably in order in our home. To be fair, this is our first Christmas where we’ve felt pretty good about our financial situation. But that’s no excuse.

    At the very least, it seems like everything we receive can and should replace something else in our home. Hello golf clubs. Goodbye golf video game. Hello dog. Goodbye cat. Wait, can’t do that one. Anyway, a nice step up to your 1:1 matching money would be 1:1 receiving gift/giving away.

  13. Great idea! I usually make a Christmas donation to Sally Ann and through my work we “Adopt A Family”. It brings our team together at work, we do all the shopping, gift wrapping and delivery. The execs usually throw in some extra cash or goodies for the families. I think its a wonderful idea.

    HAHAHA….love this. Why can’t we be not-douchey all the time? Sadly, where I am everyone is getting meaner and ruder the closer Christmas gets here 🙁

  14. Love this idea!!! I usually do extra good deeds throughout the month and some of them involve spending money/giving gifts to the less fortunate. A great reminder to value everything we usually take for granted!

    If you need some ideas for frugal gifts, check out my post today–120 gifts under $20 each (first and last blatant self-promotion you’ll ever see me comment; promise!): http://www.thehappyhomeowner.net/2012/12/120-holiday-gifts-under-20.html

  15. We buy toys for tots and give to food drives. We also do a holiday meal for the local food bank. We’ve also decided how much money we’re going to give to the local food bank each month.

    At some point you have to stop and wonder how much “stuff” and money do you really need? It gets ridiculous!

    • My husband and I also don’t give gifts to each other. We do a $20 stocking stuffer limit, and use the money for charity. We get to do so much all year long, we don’t feel there’s any need to get extravagant at Christmas.

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