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#Greatgive

The holiday season is upon us. I love the summer and I love the fall, but I’d rather just skip right over the freezing cold winter and land directly into April with green grass and flowers in bloom. As we get closer to the holidays, I feel life gets crazy and I say to myself every year,

“This holiday season will be different. This year I’m going to cut back on spending, agree to attend less events, sign up for fewer commitments, and try to enjoy the moment.”

I’m making progress, but I’ve got a ways to go!

For many years I have struggled to embrace this season. I get frustrated on how commercialized it has all become, how materialistic it turns out, and how overwhelmed I feel coming out of the backside of the season. But I have found one really, really simple way to overcome the stress of the situation.

Give.

Really, if you’re in a tight financial spot, there is one great way to combat it.

Give.

If you’re challenged to manage your money and can’t seem to get ahead, we’ve been there and came up with a strategy to reform that.

We gave.

If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or have no idea how you’re going to reach your financial goals, then do opposite of what you would naturally think,

just give.

No matter your hardship or tough times, when we’ve stopped to look outside of our own situation and opened our eyes to those around us, life has taken on a whole new light. Joy is the word that comes to mind. And in the middle of the stress of the holidays, it’s the only way I’ve learned to get through it.

As a family, our way to serve and celebrate the holiday season is to establish a Great Give with many different outlets. A few years back we started doing something that involved our kiddos and each season it tends to morph into something new. When we dine out, we like to leave a really nice tip for our server. I don’t mean 20%, I mean REALLY nice, something way above the norm, maybe even double or more of the bill! SO many people work so hard in our society for pennies on the dollar and we’ve found that giving back when it’s completely unexpected is one of life’s greatest joys.

I’m a Mom of 4. I know what it takes to make ends meet and many times a good majority of us are wondering if it’s really going to happen. Taking a moment to give to a complete stranger maybe, just maybe, will help put a dent in their hardship and challenges, just like the ones we each have and battle, too.

Not just in the holiday season, but year round, when I tend to go through Starbucks drive-thru, my kids will say, “Can we do a Pay It Forward?” We order our drinks, pay and then request to pay for the car behind us, pay, get our drinks and then go on our way. I’ve had that happen to me and it’s the most amazing feeling. It can turn a bad day good in an instant, put a smile on your face, and bring tears to your eyes. Hopefully it’s helpful to someone else’s world as well and they keep the cycle going {all year long!}.

Giving to area foundations has also become our new holiday tradition. We use our church’s giving catalog and allow each kiddo to read through the missions and then let them select one to make a donation. It’s always interesting to see how they connect with the different missions based off of the pictures, the descriptions or key words that jump off the page and attract the personality of each of my children. They are empowered in their choice and we take care of the admin to get the donation made. In the end, they get to walk away with a smile and experience the feeling of giving generosity.

I feel we have enough stuff as it is. I could call it a day, not get another gift and be on cloud nine about that. I have all I will ever need. Ever.

But the holiday season is about giving and receiving.

Opposite of what is typical, I feel the giving is really the true gift because the joy that comes with that, when expecting nothing in return, is the best part of the whole season. Holiday stress abounds, but my heart is now full because of the Great Give!

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