How changing just one simple thing made my Christmases unforgettable
The year was 2013. I was taking a break from a whole-house decluttering binge and checking my email, when I saw this message from my dad:
Hey guys! We’re getting started on our Christmas shopping so we wanted to get everyone’s wish lists. Let us know what you want this year or you may get a singing Billy Bass, ha ha.
I frowned. And I’m pretty sure at that moment the box labeled “DONATE” in the corner of the room started shaking a little bit with laughter, the random crap inside mocking me.
You can’t escape STUFF! it seemed to say. They want to give you more STUFF!
I shut my laptop and went back to work picking up toys, books, clothes, and other random items my family had accumulated and putting them away, now mulling over what I should ask for, and getting increasingly more irritated as I went.
Irritated at all the junk.
Irritated that I had to get more junk.
Irritated that I had to try to come up with what kind of junk to get.
My angry internal rantings were interrupted by a phone call. It was a leader from our church. She said that there was a young woman who was about to have a baby, and she had nothing. She was trying to gather a collection for her. I agreed to pick up a few extra packs of diapers the next time I was out and bring them to church the following Sunday. She thanked me, and I went back to cleaning.
I’ll bet that girl could think of plenty of things for a wish list, I thought. Clothes for her baby. A car seat. A crib. Maybe I should send her wish list to my parents.
And then– a lightbulb moment.
I rushed back to my computer and began typing out an email:
This year for Christmas I would like for you to take the money you would usually spend on me and instead use it to bless someone in need. For my Christmas gift, please write me a letter explaining how you used the money and leave the letter for me under the Christmas tree.
I often wish I had the financial means to give more, and so this is a way for me to do that through you. I don’t want to add more stress to your busy holiday season– even if you just make a monetary donation to a good cause, that’s fine.
I look forward to reading about how you’ve been able to bless others this Christmas.
As you might expect, they were skeptical. They thought I was bluffing. They thought it was silly. After all, it was Christmas.
But that was the point. It was CHRISTmas. Not Kaseymas. It wasn’t about me. It was about Christ. And wouldn’t He want us to bless others in need?
On Christmas morning, I was anxious. I wasn’t sure if anyone would honor my wishes. But I hoped for the best. So what happened?
Let’s just say this: Do you remember what you got for Christmas in 2013?
I do. I remember every gift.
That year, I got a letter telling me about the 100 meals that needy families received.
I got a letter about a teenage girl who got fuzzy socks, lotion, jewelry, candy, and a journal for Christmas because my parents “adopted” her from the angel tree.
I got a letter telling about the backpacks loaded with warm socks, energy bars, lip balm, and more that were given to the homeless individuals my family members passed on the way to work each day.
And because of all of those incredible gifts, I also got tears in my eyes. I got a full heart. And I got the beginning of a treasured collection of letters that grows more with each passing year.
The letters take up very little room in a special box in my closet; they will never end up in a landfill or a garbage bin (at least not while I’m alive) and the knowledge that they’re coming every year is what gets me skip-down-the-stairs excited for Christmas morning.
I made the smallest change, and in doing so I reclaimed the magic of Christmas. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Such a simple thing.
More stories from Kasey Q. Tross
How I Finally Got My Family to Clean Up After Themselves With This Parenting Hack
$10 + a game with some clever rules = a clean house (finally)
‘I Wish…’ Use This Simple Trick to Stop Kid Tantrums Instantly
When you can’t give kids what they want, the next best thing is to imagine it with them.