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Find peace by opting out of traditional Christmas gifts

At one of the church services I attended in December, we sang the song, "Let There Be Peace On Earth." The words start out with, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

I wondered about those words, especially during December. Was it possible for me to find peace among all the hurrying I do to get ready for the Christmas season? I didn’t think so. I wanted to find peace. I did find it while listening to my children’s school holiday music programs, but throughout most of December, I did not feel peaceful.

This year it seemed more difficult than ever to find the right gifts. I tried to find gifts that were meaningful, but it wasn’t easy.

Two days before Christmas, my daughter and I found ourselves in a big box store looking for one last Christmas gift. Even though the store’s website said the store had the item, it was not available. At 10 p.m., after searching for the gift at a few other stores, we finally declared defeat and settled on another gift.

Sometimes the joy in giving gets lost somewhere between the time you leave to go shopping and hours later when you return home exhausted and wondering what you accomplished.


A few days after Christmas, I read a story about a family who bought small gifts for each other, spending less than $5 on each gift, and then gave the money they would have spent on gifts to a charity. The family was able to donate $1,500 to a charitable organization of their choice. What a wonderful feeling that must have been.

This family’s story reminded me of the Salvation Amy’s Angel Tree program, and I decided to make a plan for next Christmas.

Next year, if a family member asks what I want for Christmas, my response will be, "Let's go shopping, and I will show you."

The first stop on our shopping trip will be Oak Park Mall, where we will find the Salvation Army Angel Tree. We will select an angel card from the tree. The angel cards list gifts that can be purchased for children in our area. I will ask my family member to buy one of the gifts on the angel card instead of buying a gift for me. We will not know who we are buying a gift for, but we will have a list of their Christmas wishes.

I am sure there are many readers who already do this, and you have experienced the peace and joy of knowing you were able to give a gift to a child that they might not have otherwise received.

As each year goes by, I have come to believe these truths about gift giving:

• The simple things in life are the best. One of the best gifts I have received was a photo taken on one of our family vacations.

• Time spent with friends and family is often a gift in itself. For the last five years during our Christmas gathering at my parents' home, we have planned a family trip "up north." The trip doesn’t take place until summer, but we decide on a date that will work for everyone.


• It really is more fun to give, than it is to receive.

Next year, Christmas will be different. Now that thought brings me peace.

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