Christmas is a time of giving and receiving. As you get older it’s mostly about giving. When my kids were teenagers, we integrated giving into our Christmas. That’s when we introduced the Christmas Envelope. We decided that each family member would contribute what they could towards helping a person or family. After each child gave what they felt they could and my husband and I made up the rest. When we figured out how much we had to spend, the fun part began. The next step was finding someone who was in need, everyone was allowed to throw out ideas throughout the Holiday Season. I think all and all we made some good decisions. After my husband and I made the final decision of who would receive our gift, a note was written, the envelope sealed and placed on the tree. This final decision would be kept secret until Christmas morning.
For our family, the Christmas Envelope has been a wonderful way to wrap up Christmas morning. After all the presents were open and everything cleaned up one of the kids would take down the envelope and read what it said. It was so exciting to see who we helped as a family. My husband told them why we chose to help this person or family and how much they appreciated the help.
My kids are all grown now and have their own lives. My husband and I still carry on the tradition because we are at that age where giving is so much more important than receiving. I think if you asked our family, they would tell you they have their own favorite Christmas Envelope Memory. I have three that stand out to me as my favorites.
My first favorite Christmas Envelope experience was helping a family in our neighborhood. The head of this family was a newly single Mom. She had three beautiful school aged girls and had so much on her plate. I often got a text asking if I would print something off for her or the girls. Of course, the answer was yes. Then she would send one of the girls over to retrieve it. My husband came up with a great idea. He wanted to buy the family a printer like we had. So, we did. My husband and I took over the printer along with movie gift cards for the girls, printers are not exciting for little girls. My husband set everything up for them. I don’t know who was happier, their family or ours. We still take the girls movie gift cards every year, not to help them, but because we love them.
Another favorite of mine was helping out a college student. We all know a college student who has to work while going to school so they can pay rent and eat. This particular student had her money in her wallet so she could pay her rent. Before she could do so, she dropped her wallet in a store and couldn’t find it. She was in tears and was just beside herself. Who wouldn’t be? She was contacted by the store the next day. They had her wallet but all the money was taken. All her rent money was gone. She had no idea what she was going to do. I heard about her situation through a friend. I talked to my husband and we both agreed that she needed our help. So, we took the money to her and had an opportunity to talk to her for a while. We found out she was going into Early Childhood education. I then offered her a job working 8-10 hours in my Daycare. We got her all set up and she worked for me until the end of the winter semester. It worked out well for the both of us.
I think the last of the three, will be my most favorite Christmas envelope yet. I have always have had a passion for children. After 30+ years I have decided to close my Daycare/preschool this year. I still wanted to help children and their families with educational materials and ideas, hence the website. This gift falls along these lines. We have made the decision to help a single Mom pay for her daughter’s preschool tuition. I’m not going to pretend that I am beyond excited about this, because I am. I love teaching little one’s new things. This envelope will be filled with something that is very near and dear to me. The fact that we are able to do this warms my heart.
On Christmas morning, after all the presents are opened, the Christmas Envelope will be taken down from its place on the tree. The envelope will be opened and the recipient(s) will be revealed. We always enjoy telling our family how we came to the decision of choosing this person or family to help. There is so much “JOY” in giving, and the warm fuzzy feelings that it brings are worth every penny.
I have to be honest I borrowed this idea from something someone posted on Facebook. It was not my original idea. We have changed it up a little to fit our family’s intentions of giving. It has been one of our favorite traditions and has helped our family to become even more compassionate. Just a little piece of advice that we learned along the way. My husband and I decided that we made the final decision of who we would help, for a couple of reasons. The most important one, we wanted to keep what was in the Christmas envelope a secret to be revealed on Christmas morning. The second reason, we learned early on, that our children wanted to help a lot of people. Some were past our financial capabilities. Our children were very generous with our money. We decided we had to set a dollar amount that we were comfortable with and stick to it.
We all have our traditions or ways of celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. If not, it’s not too late to start new traditions. It gives us something to look forward to during the Holiday season. I just had to share this wonderful tradition our Family has enjoyed. I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season with your families and are enriched by your own family traditions.