Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Giving

Photo courtesy

Boxing Day began about 800 years ago in the U.K., when churches would open their alms box on December 26 and distribute the contents to the poor.  Some churches still do this today.  Boxing Day has become an official holiday in some of the British Commonwealth countries, but many people don't know that the origin of the day was to help the poor.

We don't observe Boxing Day here in the U.S., but many families do take time to give to the less fortunate during the Christmas season.  When I was growing up, our family would go to the Social Services Office and get the name of a deserving family who would not be able to afford to celebrate Christmas.  We were given the names and ages of everyone in the family.  We shopped for groceries, toys, clothes, a tree, and decorations, then went home and wrapped the presents.  The family was told by Social Services that we would arrive on Christmas Eve morning.  When we arrived we helped put away the groceries, then set out Christmas cookies, hot chocolate, eggnog, and paper plates and cups.  We set up the tree, then helped the family decorate the tree.  We put the presents under the tree, then sat and chatted, and usually sang two or three carols with them before leaving. 

I assure you that as young children our Christmas Day meant so much more to us after having spent Christmas Eve mornings with such families.  As we opened our own gifts, we would imagine and talk about that other family's opening their gifts. 

I know many families who have similar Christmas traditions.  What do you and your family do for others during the Christmas season?

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