Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Things You Can Do

Well, it's Christmastime and let me first say that I love Christmas just as much as the next girl, but let me also say that 1. My tree is still in the basement and 2. I do not like Christmas music. There. I said it. Are we still friends?

I'm feeling a bit troubled this go-round by lots of different feelings, tangled up like the notorious ball of twinkle lights at the bottom of the box. I just can't shake the feeling that we don't need all of this stuff. And at the same time, I'm wanting to enjoy and celebrate and inspire wonder and worship in the hearts of my wee peeps.

For now, I'm dealing by giving myself time to chill. My tree may not make it up until the end of this week and don't alert the Grinch Police, but it may even pop up in the late-night hours, without the help of Sister Friend, Mr. Lee and Pie Pot. Who's to say? Who's to say.

This year, our gifting is trimmed to an all-time low, and I like the feel of it. A couple of needs, a want or two, quite possibly scored second-hand on Ebay. We will bake up a storm and drink tea by the glow of the artificial tree, just like we've been known to do.

I'll tear up over the desperate anticipation in the lyrics of Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel. (I do like the Christmas hymns. I'm not a total weirdo.)

But aside from the sparkle and the fun, I want to be reminded over and over and over again that there are people all around who need us to step away from our havens and our stuff and meet them. Hunger and poverty and sickness and loneliness do not retreat for this Happiest Month of the year.

I recently attended a home jewelry party for Starfish Project, and walked away with a beautiful necklace, hand-crafted by a Chinese woman who had not long ago been trapped in the grip of exploitation and abuse. Now, she lives in a shelter where she makes art and earns an income while she heals. She is educated and Loved and cared for, and she when she walks back out to the world, she will be changed.

Buy a necklace for your sister. Buy earrings for a teacher. The jewelry truly is beautiful and it's impossible to shake the story woven through the beads. 100% of the proceeds go directly back to the Starfish Project shelter. Do something good and something fun at the very same time.

And when you're done shopping, have a big bowl of cereal! That's what I would do.

It's no secret that we are big Cereal People. 3 boxes a week, people. And you think I'm joking.

It thrilled me every which way to recently discover an opportunity to put all of our empty cereal boxes to good use, and all we have to do is flatten them and ship them. They will end up in Haiti, where they will be crafted into jewelry that will change the course of someone's future.

Read this post for all of the details. Then, read this post for details on how to get the boxes where they need to go.* (Then, sit back and read the rest of the blog, because it's inspiring to the nines.)

A trash can vs. A future? It's a no-brainer.

Merry Beginning of the Christmas Season! Let's make it legendary.

*We have a pile stacking up as we speak and if you live locally, let me know and I'll happily add your boxes to ours when we're ready to ship.


  1. Oh, I adore that necklace. Would it be totally selfish to add this to MY Christmas list!!??

    You might like this Christmas CD - have you heard it?

    I LOVE the rollicking rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen with the Barenaked Ladies, as well as Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel.. it's just an all around fun mix that spans the spectrum from beautiful hymns that are moving to boisterous music to bebop along with... but beware of The Cat Carole!!

  2. i know this about you. this holiday music non-favor. i was thinking about it last night when we were decorating the tree. in a i don't even know you kind of way;)

    oh shan. thank you so much for posting this information about haiti. i'm parking it right in my heart. i can't wait to dive into a new haiti blog. and send all of my cereal boxes.


  3. I think it must be the beets.

    : p

    Julie M.

    ps Thank you for sharing the necklace & box info. I'll check 'em oot.

  4. What a great post about the shelter for women. I will go and buy an item for sure.I am sure they have a lot of healing to do.

    Times are hard these days I hear it over and over again.We always buy for a family in need and last year was our own family members.My brother in-law and sis lost their jobs, cars and now home.Though we keep reminding them that they are healthy and have each other and that's all that really matters it's still very hard for them.

    I would love to send you and your family blessings this year, though I am not sure you would want to give out your addy.Maybe a po box?

    I send my blessings to you & your family~Cheers Kim

  5. I'm totally feeling you on this one. (shocker eh?)
    When I was decorating this weekend I had a hard time putting out all the usual stuff. In the end most of it stayed in the box. Only the stuff I really, really love came out and it's highlighted by lots of candles. I'm not normally a big candle person but there's something about all these flickering tealights in the windows that I love right now. Oh, and our tree isn't up yet either. We do the real deal so it'll be a week or so. Don't feel too Grinchified on that one.
    As far as gifts, we've decided to send a small gift to those we love accompanied by a note that a donation was made in their name to their local shelter or foodbank.
    I love the cereal box thing. With 7 of us here, we eat a lot of cereal! Thank you for sharing that!

  6. I just love you.

    I have the same angst about the stuff and no tree yet.

    And the same tears threatened to fall when we sang 'O Come' at church this Sunday.

    And I love cereal.


  7. I identify with your hesitations and qualms. All the Thanksgiving food in bloggy land wigged me out, and now all the sales and Christmas goodies. I feel sated even before I've gotten started.

  8. My tree isn't up yet either because of my sweet sickie teenager. I'm hoping she might be well enough this evening to venture out and that my sweet man will not have to work until 6:30 like he thinks he will. Otherwise I fear our family trip to buy a tree will not happen this year. Love your necklace and even more than that I love the idea behind it!

  9. Thank you for sharing these thoughts about the many folks who struggle throughout the year, and really feel the punch at Christmastime. With my kids getting older I feel like it's so important to make giving to others a big part of our Christmas traditions and get over the whole me, me, me mentality. Love your necklace - so pretty!

  10. So awesome!! We go through A TON of cereal.

  11. What great info. I will take the boxes out of the recycling bag and store them for shipment! Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas, even if you don't like Christmas songs. whatevs--I guess I'll still read your blog...

  12. I initially gasped at the almost blasphemous, anti-Christmas music declaration. And then kept reading. First of all, thank you so much for the reminder of what is outside my decorated front door. And the cereal box, Haiti info...thanks for that too. Yet I covet that necklace.

  13. alas I am not alone :){on the not for C-mas music!}I gave in this year & bought a Christmas CD & It just don't do much for me :)...{Although I am a huge fan of O Holy Night!}{Celine Dion singing it is the berries :)}
    Love your posts...

  14. We eat mountains of cereal every week too. Gotta look into that. Now go get your tree groove on girlie!

  15. Just went to Starfish Project and bought a necklace for my niece for Christmas--she has a heart for hurting women and is going to LOVE that her present is helping the amazing work they do! Thanks for sharing about the organization!

  16. Both of these missions sound amazing and you are right; poverty and hunger do not stop during this time of year. Money is tight with so many people right now, my husband and I are buying less gifts for one another in order to sponsor a child at our church. It's totally worth it!

  17. Wow! That is so cool about cereal boxes, count me in! I wish I had known all these months, becuase like you, we go through boxes a week with Micerman there! I'll start saving now. And tell R. about it! If you need help shipping, let me know! I have a little $ sitting in my paypal account and would be happy to use it to cover the $1.50/lb cost. ps. love the necklace! pss. I think I'm gonna pass this around work, maybe I can get others to bring in boxes for me!

  18. ShandyCane - I'm not feeling the season this year either - as in the tradition of the whole gift and decorating thing. I toyed with the idea of not decorating at all. Now this would be as shocking as Tiger Woods being faithful - fo sho. I'm just feeling like it's fluff. I thought about just putting my nativity set out and being done with it. Funny thing is - I feel that I would disappoint my friends and family that make appointments to come here saying it's 'so special here' for the holidays. In retrospect - if my decorating makes them feel that way - then I shall do it. I'm only purchasing two gifts this year.

    I love the necklace Shan - what a wonderful story behind it too. I love seeing people healing from hurts in life, instead of constantly reopening them and getting them infected....

    OK...is this long enough? Me thinks so. Oh - I know that tomorrow is Corco's big day - please tell him I'm sorry - but the Obama desk accessory kit I ordered for him is on backorder...

  19. Shannan, thanks for posting about Starfish! I bought some earrings as small Christmas gifts for friends. Another organization that is absolutely great like this is SariBari in India. (www.saribari.com) I worked with them after college. They work with women who have left the sex trade. Their blankets are beautiful! Looks like right now they are mostly sold out, but I have a blanket, and I love it.

  20. Love love love reading your sentiments about Christmas...and knowing I'm not alone in my angst!
    And we are some serious cereal eating folks here (ok, so maybe it's just me, but it makes me feel better to pretend others in my house contribute to the mountain of cereal consumed each week) & I am beyond excited at this opportunity! I knew my cereal obsessed life would come in handy some day. Thanks for passing on this info.

  21. I like the simplistic Christmas you wrote about. I am heading to Starfish now.

  22. Amen. I have been feeling the same way about many things...and yes, some of it is because I am strapped for cash, but also-what do we REALLY need? We recently had a high school student commit suicide here- same age as my daughter- and it really has been working on me. Thanks for highlighting these opportunities - every little piece helps :)

  23. You don't like Christmas music?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  24. thank you for this post. i think you are only doing your kids a favor to keep christmas simple. i wish we would've been as wise as you when our kids were a little younger.

    thank you for the starfish and cereal box info...off to check those things out!

  25. oh ouch a fake tree?? Dear oh dear, well I suppose I am biased since we have a Christmas tree farm, if you lived here I would give you one for free. I am only into the vintage christmas music and the hymns myself. We are paring down too, years ago my girls and I went to walmart and filled the cart with slippers, toiletries, etc... and brought it to the local mission. The other day I thought, why haven't I done that since? I am ashamed to say that was a one time deal. This weekend we are going to do it again and every year after this! We have so much. I want to teach my kids to build up treasures in heaven not on earth. It's never to late to start, right?

  26. The Operation Christmas Child Gift Catalog is amazing. You can buy chickens, water pumps, mesquito nets, fruit trees, dairy animals, all kinds of life giving things.

    That's what we're doing this year and we are all so excited about it.

    The boys want Pillow Pets, and since they're the perfect $20 gift that's what they're getting :), along with a monogrammed blanket.

    Props to you for keepin' it real around your house.

    You are awesome!

  27. Thanks for sharing such good and helpful Christmas ideas!
    And just so you know, you're not the only grinch. I really can't stand most Christmas music, especially when it starts invading public spaces around the 1st week of November. I do make an exception for "Takin' Care of Christmas" by BTO, though, and Christmas Hymns. "What Child Is This?" is my all time Favourite!

  28. Seriously Shannan,I'm with you ..Our tree has still not made an appearance and we are definetly cutting back..I'd prefer a huge hug and kiss from my boys than an overpriced gift..Oh yes and my tree is artificial too..We bought it the first year we got married(17yrs ago) and I hope one day my grandkids will help me decorate it,I love it for it's staying power.Have a great week..xx

  29. Shannan, I agree we do need to simplify Christmas! There are so many people in need out there. I think a lot of people are really cutting back which might not be a bad thing.I do love Christmas music though it always puts a smile on my face! I do love that necklace what an inspiring story behind it will have to check it out! I won't alert the grinch patrol! Traci

  30. Girl, loved this post.

    And also, this has nothing to do with anything really, but I love your new blog design!! It's gorgeous!!

  31. Oh geez, I LOVE it that you're a cereal person! And one who likes the SUGARY cereals! I have healthy friends who only eat plain bran flakes and it makes my stomach roll just thinking of putting that in my mouth! UUUUGH! I picked up a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch today! I think I love you! (No, I'm NOT gay ~no offense gay people~ but I am married and have 2 children.) Cheers to cereal!

  32. We are ALWAYS friends. I am about to help Thurgood pick some toys to donate...and his old coat. I always try to remember that I am blessed and to pass along those blessings when I can.

    As for the cereal....oh my. We only had one kind growing up {Cheerios}..so you can only imagine how I over indulge in cereals now.


  33. I have a hard time with Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Always feels like a passed over holiday. My tree will not venture forth until next week. I have twig/lighted pumpkin on my hearth still. I love this post.

  34. I am right there with you sister, not tree up yet, and gulp probably won't be up by the end of this week either...just not ready...and as for the gifts, I say less is more, always have...kids don't need every toy they see on Nickelodien (oh that bugs me that they have to have every commerical about a toy) they just need one or two to be happy...I am off to check out that site...I admire women who take themselves out of bad situations, and learn to support themselves and learn to love again...that is what life is all about!

  35. AMEN sister!
    Thank you for sharing all those links. You know I'm ready to go dig wells in Ethiopia TODAY, but since that's not possible (yet)- I will DEFINITELY buy a necklace.


  36. you are my kind of beautiful.

  37. So incredibly well put--I've had numerous christmas seasons in the last 5 years with tears in my eyes just to see all the un-needed consumerism piled under the tree when really we could better meet the needs of those who most need it.....One year I had each of my neice/nephews select an agency that they cared about and I donated to it instead.