Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days of Giving

The Gilmore family poses at the top of Haiti's Citadel in July 2011 at the exact spot where Ericlee proposed to Dorina nine years ago.

I love gifts! I love the fun of opening a package and finding a surprise inside. But even more, I love the joy of making something or picking out that perfect gift for someone and watching them open it.

This year I have been reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, and redefining gifts in my mind, my heart. I have learned that gifts are not always wrapped in paper and neat bows. They don't always come in gift bags. Gifts can be the things around us - large and miniscule - that we can savor and mark with gratitude.

I am grateful for these gifts today: sleeping in with my girls, clean counters, a big sister who lives for rocking her new baby sister, warm banana muffins delivered by a friend, cozy socks for cold feet, paint-stained hands, leftovers for lunch, time to be still.

This advent I set before my family a challenge. At the prompting of a dear friend, we started talking about what we could do as a family each day of Advent to give gifts to others in unique ways. We scrawled a list in a notebook. Some things were simple - calling cousins we haven't talked to in a while, sharing around the lunch table the things we appreciate about each other, making cards for teachers. Other gifts included blessing people around the world.

We started a tradition when Meilani was born that we pick something from the World Vision Gift Catalog each year as part of her gifts. One year we bought soccer balls for kids in the developing world. Another year, we bought a fishing kit to empower a family that needed to put food on the table. This year Meilani and Giada picked out a set of 5 ducks to go to a family so they could have extra income and protein-rich food.

If you have been keeping up with our family and this blog, you know that we have dedicated this year to "remembering Haiti" and serving there. During this Advent, we have continued to pray for our friends in Haiti and tried to keep our eyes focused on what God would have us do to bless them.

There are 12 days until Christmas. We often take advantage of this season to post pictures of our favorite Christmas traditions and holiday gatherings. This year we wanted to do something different with our blog. We will take the next dozen days to share with you about our friends in Haiti and how they have been gifts to us in 2011. We also will highlight some unique ways your family might consider giving gifts that will bless the people we have gotten to know in Haiti. We hope you will enjoy the stories of some of these special people and projects we have experienced as a family.

Merry Christmas! Please share with us some of the unique ways your family gives meaningful gifts. We love to hear about family traditions and even new organizations!

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