I've blogged about several things that we did to make Advent special,and I will blog more about what we did, but right now I want to focus on how we decided to share God's gift with others. I highly recommend you read The Sparkle Box. It's a wonderful book about how we can give back to Jesus on his birthday. He doesn't want books or toys or clothes. He wants us to share his love with those around us. So, that's what we focused on this Christmas. We bought gifts for several children in need through different organizations. We also gave out gift cards to Starbucks or McDonald's to people on the street in Chicago. We picked out something in the World Vision catalog. But my favorite thing this year is we baked cookies and passed them out to our neighbors. This was my favorite because of a card we got from the widow at the end of the street. She talked about what a nice surprise it was. Since her husband died last year, the holidays have been difficult for her, but our cookies (delivered by an adorable two-year-old!) brightened her day and were a nice treat for several days. She mentioned how very thankful she was of us for thinking of her. And that's what it's all about. Sharing God's love with those around us.
Because I didn't want to be so focused on gifts this year, we decided to have a homemade Christmas. All of the gifts we gave (with the exception of two) were homemade. I made bows and headbands for my nieces, puzzle blocks for my nephew, fabric letter magnets for another niece, a car carrier for Brad's cousin, meat rubs for my dad, calendars for the grandmas, and a shelf for my mom. Brad also made me a door hanging for our house (I love it!). And I made (actually, I'm still in the process of making) him and the boys pajama pants. I loved making all of the gifts and was so excited to see everyone's reactions when they opened them. This is definitely something I hope to continue! It was so rewarding and really made the whole season a little more joyful for our family.