Often, these last few weeks before Christmas, signal a shift into consumer mode.
Especially for the children, counting of the presents ramp into full gear. The comparison of who deserves the most becomes a daily occurrence, and generally an all around attitude of “buy, buy, buy” creeps its way to life (even if you have committed to the opposite.)
One way to counter that tendency is to give, give, give. Cultivate a heart of gratitude.
A unique way is use stockpiling and your grocery guru status to serve others is by giving from your pantry to bless others, thus opening your childrens’ eyes to those who have real needs with no hope of presents.
Many of you have have questioned, “Are Coupon Worth it?” and mentioned that you just don’t use the items that are in the coupon insert (although I beg to differ, and I think I’ve changed many of your minds). Next time you throw away the coupon that can snag you free toothpaste, shampoo or snack-y type food, consider “purchasing” it anyhow, and save it for those in need. It doesn’t have to stop at just pantry staples or drug store finds, when I see some wonderful deals on toys or gifts, I will buy ahead as well.
Canned food drives are very prevalent during the holidays, but might you consider taking it to the next level by putting together some “Goodie Baskets” for those less fortunate?  I’ve found that by putting actual people, faces and stories with what we give makes a dramatic impression on our kids. They can begin to comprehend more of the true needs of the community.

I’ve shared about our care packages for the homeless, which are wonderful to keep on hand throughout the winter months, but these gift baskets have a slightly different twist. One of our main goals is to specifically use them this time of year as teaching tool for our children to offset the materialism that tends to erodes the soul. Involve your children in putting these together. Talk through some of the scenarios.
For our family, it has been sharing with refugee families and the homeless. Involve them in discussing how close many families are to homelessness. We share about the horrors that these refugee families have had to endure – situations that we can’t even wrap around our privileged minds. (Age appropriate, of course.)

If you have no idea where to find those to help, begin by asking your local school’s social worker. You’d be shocked to find how many families are in dire straights this year. Our local high school, located in a fairly affluent section of town, has numerous children living on the streets. They come to school just like any other child, yet they shuffle from house to house during the winter months just to find a bed and shower.  Other families are on the verge of foreclosure and wondering where any Christmas joy will come from this year.
Wouldn’t it be a blessing to be part of sharing that joy? Consider putting together some Blessing Baskets to share over the next few weeks. Leave them in your car. Be alert and sensitive to those around you. Keep your eyes and ears open for those in need. It may be someone in line at the grocery store, or your children may even know of just the person with which they want to share.
If you’re lead to give to a family that you know personally, I highly encourage blessing them anonymously. Not only does it teach your children the gift of giving without expecting anything in return, but it also relieves the recipient of feeling the need to reciprocate in any way.