More and Less.

{Edited to add photos of the children and an easy link to donate towards the SAM Ministries Orphan Care program at the bottom of the post.}

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store …
maybe perhaps Christmas means a little bit more.”
– Dr. Seuss

“Let’s buy a cow, mom.”

Lyla pointed to the description in the printed brochure … the simple worded description that meekly pointed out how a cow could change a family and a farmer’s life forever in Mozambique.

“I want to send milk for a baby, mommy!”

Lucia had circled the picture of the little boy on the page.

A few weeks ago, a grandparent had asked me to give a catalogue  of brightly colored, attractive toys to the girls to circle what they wanted for Christmas. Something inside of me kept putting it off.  I never gave the girls the catalogue.

I have had an online shopping cart from sitting there for three weeks, filled to the brim with fabulous Christian books, devotions, cds, gifts for loved ones, my husband, family members and mother in laws. But I just couldn’t, for some reason, press the ‘buy now’ button.

It felt strange to me this year.

And ridiculous.

Past years, we have scaled back a lot – giving mostly homemade presents and the few purchased items at Christmas time. It felt like we were buying less, doing less, for the sake of avoiding the greedy consumerism of the season and keeping the focus on God.

And yet, this year, the urge to scale back felt even stronger.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been praying and finally it hit me. How had I not seen it before? We have been giving, yes, we have been using the Christmas Angel to show love to others, we have been trying to show kindness, we sent our shoeboxes overseas… but was there more?

Of course there is more.

Less is more.
Less stuff. Less busy.
More love in action.

Talking with Abby, we both decided that we would not be buying Christmas presents this year. There are a few exceptions with a present I purchased ahead of time for the girls but they will just be getting that one present to share together. We have some homemade-with-love presents we will give to relatives, but other than that, we are not purchasing.

The hardest, I have to be honest, is that I am a mommy and I want to bless my children and make the smile and giggle and feel loved on Christmas morning. And yet, does the unwrapping of many gifts on a particular morning really foster happiness in children, in adults?

Instead, we, as a family, decided we would send the money we would have used on presents to our friends in Mozambique, who run an orphan care program there. A country with 1.4 million orphans. Children with very little Christmas coming their way.

We talked about it with the girls. When asked what they thought about not getting presents this year, they sat there for a few minutes …  and then, one of the girls piped up in sincerity …

“Mommy, let’s buy presents for ALL the babies there.”

And that was that.

We prayed over our decision with the girls and they each were able to go through the catalogue and pick what they wanted to send to the missions team in Africa.

They understand that Christmas will not be full of presents this year.  The tree will not be bursting with surprises.

But they also understand that a little child will have milk for a month instead.

{Here are some photos from last year’s Orphan Care Packs distribution … Heather was saying for most of these children, this was the first time IN THEIR LIFE they had ever received a present. Many children do not even have a roof over their homes. Photos are taken by Heather Neufeld.}

We are filling our Christmas with love, instead of presents and gifts.




Lately, my spare time has been filled with crocheting tiny, red hearts to hang on the branches of our Christmas tree …



I am trying to fill the basket, and it is slowly happening {although I am often times distracted by a few helping hands …}

For every kind act a family member does, they are allowed to hang a heart on the Christmas tree …

By Christmas day, we hope to have our tree filled with Love.

Less presents. Less rush. Less is more. More love.
More Jesus.

“People making lists
Buying special gifts
It’s a time to be kind  to one and all
It’s that time of year
When good friends are dear
And you wish you could give more
Than just presents from a store…

Why don’t you give love on Christmas day
Oh, even the man
Who has everything would be so happy
If you would bring Him love
On Christmas day …
No greater gift is there than love.”

***** Edited to add ***

If you would like to help out the orphans in Mozambique, you can download the brochure and choose what gift you would like to send. Then click this link to send the money virtually. Over time, I will hopefully be able to post photos of the children receiving their Orphan care packs so stay tuned. 🙂 *******

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December 5, 2012 - 9:54 am

Claire It takes a confident parent to make a decision like this. I respect and admire that you have the strength to follow thru on what you truly believe. That in itself is a very important message to teach our children.

December 4, 2012 - 7:48 pm

Heather Gillian, you raise your girls by giving them gifts everyday. Their whole lives are filled with love, attention, learning, beauty, special treats and traditions. Your choice for Christmas is truly what this world needs. I believe it’s us grown-ups who struggle with losing the commercialism, even more than the kids. Being with family, enjoying their Christmas dinner, the special gift they’ll receive together, are all memories that will last for your daughters. Plus, they will be able to have a glimpse into what Jesus taught them to do… love others more than themselves.

We’ll be picking out items for less fortunate families as well, and we’re all knitting up a storm (instead of crocheting) 🙂

Thanks for sharing your heart.

December 4, 2012 - 2:22 pm

Tricia Everyone is entitled to raise their children how they see fit. Not everyone has to do and say the same thing. I was raised with the belief if you can’t say something nice, say nothing.

December 4, 2012 - 2:07 pm

Lynn Lagore What an honour…thank you so much Gillian. Blessings on you all this Christmas!

December 4, 2012 - 12:48 pm

Jennifer Your holier than though approach to a traditional Christmas is upsetting to me! I know Christmas isn’t about presents, but let your children be children. Hopefully your family comes through with some presents for your beautiful Girls. They truly deserve something for being so kind to others.

December 4, 2012 - 8:23 am

Heather neufeld Wow, Gillian, this is beautiful, thank you so much for donating to the unique christmas gift campaign! Thank you for using your voice to shed light on our work here! If folks would like more info, they can check out our blog! And drop us a note. Blessings, Heather & Rick

December 4, 2012 - 5:45 am

Gillian’s Mom, Brenda Gillian, this is AWESOME!! The best Christmas present ever!! WE all know that the girls will always get gifts from relatives … there is never a shortage of presents for little ones, at Christmas. I love this … and am so proud of your family. xo

December 4, 2012 - 12:41 am

Chris Mccoy lovely decision! I know the girls will remember this! Perhaps your next mission trip will be with Lacey to this very orphanage you speak of…to visit those friends and see the difference in the lives of the families you have blessed this year! 🙂

December 3, 2012 - 11:37 pm

Jennifer Ledlow Very, very nice. Thoughtful, meaningful…and I’m sure the girls will feel so good knowing that they have sacrificed so that others could benefit. I’m sure their donations and gifts will lift the spirits of many this Christmas.