Monday, November 30, 2015

A Different Kind of Christmas


If it were socially acceptable to start cranking the Christmas jams in September and put up your tree and decorations in October, you better believe I would be ALL over that! #RealTalk - If I'm having a bad day, you will often find the Pandora Christmas station playing to help get me out of my funk - no matter what time of the year it is.


Maybe it's the magic in the twinkle lights or the generosity of people {except, of course, when it comes to "their" parking spot at the mall or that "super sale" on a prized possession} or that the holiday is a celebration of my Savior entering the world, whatever the case, it makes me heart happy.

And although I love the holiday season each and every year, I am EXTRA excited for Christmas THIS YEAR. Like, legit, I think in my 31 years THIS is the one I am MOST looking forward to. Why you may ask?! Because this one is ALL ABOUT OTHERS!

If you know me (or remember my #Carlees31 project), you know that I have a passion to give to those around me. With that being said, my heart grew three sizes this year when many of the people in my life decided that instead of gifts we could make this Christmas matter MUCH MORE!


This year, instead of exchanging gifts, my mom, dad, brother, brother's girlfriend, hubby and I are picking a charity that is near and dear to our hearts and we are all donating in honor of that person. My mom picked St. Jude, my dad selected Habitat for Humanity, my brother and his girlfriend chose the Detroit Bully Club, and the hubby and I picked Outside the Bowl. We are all beyond blessed and really don't need more "things", so wanted to spend this holiday season blessing others.


Last year my sister-in-law adopted a local family in Detroit for the holidays. This year, she asked if, instead of buying each other things, if we wanted to go in with them on a larger family - HECK YES! We will be adopting a mother and five kids together with them and another family couple. The family's wish list is long (including things like snow suits, hats, gloves, snow boots, socks, blankets, outfits, shoes, toys and all things Frozen), but we are blessed to bless others so cannot wait to pamper them with everything they need and more! (Don't worry, we will still be spoiling the nephews with Lego's galore, but the adults have enough "stuff" and are opting to spend the money on those that could really use it.)


Some of my girlfriends and I decided that instead of presents this Christmas, we are taking a girls trip together. We grabbed up some cheap Southwest flights when they were having a good deal and will be heading to San Francisco for a long weekend come January. The holidays are about spending time together - not necessarily spending money on each other! It is all about presence NOT presents!


I was stoked when my father-in-law mentioned that instead of gifts he wanted to do experiences. While we are back in Michigan, we will be going with Ryan's family to a Detroit Pistons game with some great seats. I mean, let's be real, would you rather have court side tickets to a NBA game or another trinket that you will never use?! 

But PLEASE HEAR ME OUT... I am not telling you this for accolades or for a pat on the back, I am posting about our ideas as a way to spur you in some of your own acts of giving. Maybe instead of gifts you and your friends volunteer at a local soup kitchen for the holidays or maybe you and your family decide to decorate cookies and take them to your local fire house or maybe you create kindness packages with gift cards, hand warmers and blankets for the homeless along your daily route and dedicate each to a special person in your life... Shoot, if you are looking for acts of kindness, I did 31 of them during #Carlees31 that you could piggy back off of. Chat with those in your tribe and see if they would like to do something for those less fortunate instead of for one another.


And, I have to say, this different kind of Christmas not only makes you feel great inside, it is definitely a whole heck of a lot less stressful! I understand realize that not everyone will be on board with flipping the American idea of Christmas on its head, but maybe, just maybe, one or two of us will do it and we can start to change the world!


Is there something you can do this holiday season to help those less fortunate than you?


Erica @ Erica Finds said...

You and your families are amazing! Great ideas and very inspiring! :) I will see what I can add.

Unknown said...

I started crocheting hats and scarfs to give out to the homeless in my town. Will continue to make them and keep a stash in my car when weather gets cold. Was originally inspired by your 31 acts for your birthday and tried to think of something I could do just to spread at least a small bit of kindness around me.

Kristen said...

This is an amazing idea! My family is not big on stuff like this so I probably couldn't convince them to go all out, but I'm definitely interested in maybe donating more gifts to others and to volunteering my time. Where did you find the families to "adopt"? I'd love to do that!

Ana said...

I suggested this to my family, because we all have a ton of "things" that we don't need. But everybody started jumping in the "but it won't feel like Christmas" wagon. So I gave up, I asked them all to donate a toy for Toys for Tots and cut back on a toy they would be giving my son... he has enough toys. I also got my son two toys to donate to Toys for Tots, which get deducted from his endless list of gifts.

Kristen- You can call up any local social agency to find out how to adopt a family, each city/town has different agencies doing this events. If you don't know what social agencies are in your town, call United Way, they can connect you to the agencies. My family was adopted many years ago, we had nothing when we came to this country, and having those presents for Christmas was the most amazing gift. We still talk about it 17 years later!

Ange @ Cowgirl Runs said...

Carlee, you have such a great heart and are such a light!
I love that you're using this Christmas to serve others.
I find I enjoy the Christmas season so much more now that it's about spending time with friends and family and less about buying, buying, buying.

John @ run. geek. run(disney) said...

I love Christmas as well, ALL sides of it. I love the giving nature it brings out in others. I love the lights, the music, everything. Though both my wife and I are "nothing before Thanksgiving" people (Thanksgiving dinner, whatever the time is the cutoff), I easily could listen to it anytime really.

While we dont do a whole family, I love that idea. We also do the giving tree, and frankly usually take multiple tags, so I love the idea of going together with your family to give gifts to a large family in need. We've been trimming things back, especially to help out kids understand it's not about "stuff" the way we both understand. I think the going in as a group to help out a large family as a great idea.

Scarabocchio Girl said...

"The things you really want for the holidays can't be bought" It's sooooo true! When my mom has asked me what I wanted for Christmas I didn't have an answer because what I want it's already here, I mean, the material things. Sometimes I really need something that money can't buy :) Happiness for example!