We have only the present: Tidings of Good Will

December 6, 2012

I have heard so many stories recently from friends, family, and strangers alike who are going through some really difficult times. Financial strain, loss of a loved one, illness, family problems, etc. There are many who are hurting, and it can especially hit hard during Christmas. This always weighs heavy on my heart, but this year, I resolved to talk less and act more.

What started as a facebook thread expressing this resolution, turned into a surprisingly awe inspiring day for me as I read comments and received emails from readers who have chosen to do something for their neighbors and communities this year. It moved me to tears. Big and small things alike. I am going to share some of them with you here, in hopes it will inspire you as well to do small things with great love this advent season. I am pretty sure BIG things can result because of it.

(photo by my talented sister Angela, quote source ?)

“I’m paying it forward! Every time I go through the drive-thru, paying for the persons behind me & serving a few hours a week.” – Amanda

I’m going to get some shoes and possibly a little jacket (it’s getting cool here) for the little talibe that is always outside the kids school. I usually give him a few coins every day so he can warn earn his bread but he really needs clothes and shoes  In the US we always do toy drives and volunteer at shelters. The need here is so great it’s hard to know where to start. – Ashley

 We want our child(ren) to know what it’s like to spend their own “hard-earned” money to buy a gift for a child their age and give it to him/her personally. In return, they will receive something for Christmas on an equal level. – Hannah

(Claudia at the Okinawa-shi is Airen-En Orphanage in Japan)

I live in Japan and the culture that they have towards children with disabilities and/or in need is very secretive. After much CIA style kind of research and networking, I finally got to visit an orphanage. Now I go every other saturday and spend there from 8-12 with a group of volunteers. We teach the kiddos english and we just love them. It is so rewarding, it is indeed a reality check. We have such a blessed life! Giving is the best gift for us!!! – Claudia

All throughout the year, we donate to our food bank and for Christmas, we donate to the Mission – Christmas dinners. They provide the placemats that will be used and we can write a note of encouragement and love on them. – Emily

I got a gift card in the mail, went to Kohl’s, and didn’t find what I was looking for. I thought about just trying to find something else, but then an idea popped into my mind. I went up to the register and handed it to a lady with two daughters. It was AWESOME to feel the paradox of ‘the more you give, the more you have’. – Katy

How about giving someone handmade “gift cards” of ways you can think of to serve them & then making them promise to cash them in before the end of Dec or end of Jan? Like a night of babysitting, a closet clearing partner, a yoga dvd buddy. Things that wouldn’t cost much money on your part, just time, & would possibly also lead to more time with that person just in a very intentional way. – Hilary

I have a friend who really felt called to help with the victims of hurricane Sandy that are facing the holiday’s with nothing. She did some research and ended up connecting with a parish near the Jersey Shore that has 3 different facilities housing people and is in need of help. My friend (Jessica ) Gutierrez) got a 24 foot truck donated and is working on filling it with supplies which she will herself drive to church on December 14th. –JoAnna

All of these comments have literally made me weep. You are all such a blessing to our cold, tough world. THANK YOU and THANK GOD FOR YOU and for your efforts. You are the true spirit of Christmas. – Christina

(artwork by Lena Hanzel)

So what am I going to do about this?
Having two little ones may limit it me in how or where I can serve, but they are my first project. To love my family, brothers, sisters, parents, neighbors, and friends. Often we are the ones that need the most love, right? 

Hurricane Sandy “Fill the Truck” Project – (thank you to my parish and JoAnna for the heads up!) A woman in our area was inspired to directly help Hurricane Sandy victims on the east coast. She got a 24 foot truck donated she is trying to fill with supplies by Dec. 14th to be taken to a church in New Jersey. It will then be handed to victims in need. I am hoping to rally help for this from friends and neighbors. If you are in the Atlanta area, feel free to email me for more info on the supplies needed.

Handwritten Christmas Notes to Friends – not just a family photo (in fact we aren’t even doing those this year), but an old school handmade card with hand written notes to new and old friends alike. (thank you Hilary for the idea!)

Knocking on the doors of neighbors – Its so easy even in the friendly south to go months without seeing or talking to neighbors. I am determined to knock on their door, say hello and bake their way into their hearts. We all need a smile and reminder that we matter.

Giving Tree – There is a tree at our church that was filled with requests from local needy children. Shoes, cribs, socks, coats…I wanted to take them all, but my friends and I were able to get a small bunch of them and shop for what they needed. Sometimes I wish I were rich so I could do things like buy that little giving tree out of stock!

Our Landlord knocked $200 off our rent! It pretty much made our year. What we are going to do with that money? Address the list above. We have a whole list of people we have been wanting to help. God never can be outdone in generosity.

What about you? I would love to hear your ideas. My list is open for growth. These readers above reminded me how much goodness is in humanity. Hope you will join me in spreading Tidings of Good Will this year:)

* If you are doing acts of service in the next few weeks. Tweet with the hashtag #TidingsofGoodWill and you can check out and be encouraged by others doing the same! 

Leave a Comment

  • I love the giving tree idea. My church growing up always did that and I loved to pick a few names and buy gifts. It gave it a personal connection and was also fun while being helpful :).

  • Thank you sooo very much for sharing this Anna, for your kindness and your big heart. I will post this on my Fb page and on my blog. Together we will spread the word and be blessed with the gift of giving.
    Clau (Bunny)

  • It is so true Christmas can be such an emotional time. As a beauty blogger I have far too many beauty products so this year I made a box full of beauty goodies for a local woman’s shelter…(just blogged about the cause) maybe one in your area. Its called the Shoebox Project. Such an easy thing to do…

  • Love the idea of paying it forward and also toy drives. It is hard with a baby, but I think this time of year it is so important to make an effort! And I mean our kids will learn from us, which is the greatest gift we can give them. Thanks for sharing this Anna, once again, you said this beautifully and the spirit of love and giving is especially strong this time of year! 🙂

    • I think sometimes our most important job is to just love our little ones. There are so many children who are deprived of just that. But you are right, they learn so young to give since their hearts are so pure. 🙂

  • thanks for sharing these great “mom-friendly” ideas… i especially love the idea of baking for neighbors and writing notes to friends. as fun as it is to get everyone’s family photos in the mail, it will never be as personal or special as receiving a hand written letter. happy st. nicholas day!

  • Amazing. This is truly what it is all about. We participated in Operation Christmas Child. I am also coordinating our Women’s outreach Christmas Tea to be held Sunday. I love what the Fish and Chick-fil-A are doing in our area as well with the Wish List!

  • Hey Anna! I always donate in the name of my family members who do not want/need gifts. This year I am giving a bike through 88bikes for my some of my siblings 🙂

    • Hi Mary! That is such a good idea. My idea of what we “need” has totally changed in the last few years. It would be much more effective to pass along those extras to someone who needs it.

  • This is such a great and inspiring post. Through work we always participate by drawing the names of a children in need for Operation Santa Claus and buy gifts that they’ve requested. It’s always fun looking for the items you know they really want and wouldn’t get without some help.

  • So inspiring Anna! Love this entire post. Love your heart. xoxo

  • Seriously, so inspiring. I love all these comments and ladies sharing what they’re doing this season. Your handwritten notes are a wonderful idea- I try to do that often, too!

  • Such a beautiful read! I love how tuned in you are to everything happening around you…and not just for the holidays, it’s really about making an effort to make your efforts count! Love your tips, I’ll try the drive thru one tomo ;D

    Also- I’m hosting a décor-to-dress giveaway where 3 winners will WIN a fabulous frock of their choice just in time for the holidays! Hope you’ll stop by to enter the contest!

    Peace. Love. LOL!

    Haute Khuuture Blog

  • I always love visiting your blog…so inspirational:)
    This holiday season I will be focused on Sandy recovery … My husbands family is all displaced for an entire year- can’t return home, and my aunts boutique has been condemned- so helping them get through will be a main priority, as well as other victims of the storm. Lots of great ways to donate and volunteer here at teh shore….
    Wishing you the best and brightest this holiday season and LOVE LOVE LOVE this post.

    • Some people have lost everything. It must be such a difficult thing to face Christmas. Hopefully people like you are brightening their seemingly hopeless world!

  • What a great reminder and a beautiful inspiration. It always good to remember how blessed we really are and to give back when we can.
    My husband and I tried to buy all our gifts from local and small businesses rather than bigger stores. And we also threw a dinner party for our friends so we could spend time with them before the craziness of the holidays. Hoping to get in some time at the Veterans shelter as well!

    Thank you for the wonderful reminder about what this season is all about.

  • My parent’s church does a giving tree for local abbeys and monasteries. My mom gave me a couple of tags but they are for things like applesauce, powdered milk, and coffee. I’m hoping to buy a few more simple things to give, along with their small requests. I also have a couple of friends doing mission work overseas whom I’d love to help out!

  • A beautiful read this Friday afternoon. I feel uplifting and encouraged by the stories of how others are brightening and contributing to the world around them. I have finished my hand written Christmas cards for this year and writing them out was a pleasure. I know that in them, there is a seed of connection, which gets planted when they are received. A reminder that one is cared for, thought of and cherished. We can all change the lives of those around us, with one giving, loving act at a time. Thanks for sharing Anna, have a wonderful weekend with your family xo

  • This is so inspiring Anna, thank you for sharing!

    xx amy
    Leopard and Lillies

  • My husband loves that saying! Hope you have a great weekend! I’m your newest follower…love your blog. XO, Desiree from Chic Coastal Living

  • i so love that mother teresa quote!

    hope you will find a moment to stop by and enter a giveaway i am hosting for followers (i hope you win!):

    happy weekend to you!


  • I love inspiring blog posts like this that put people to action!

    My biggest project recently has been to teach my children the importance of generosity and charity. Last week I had them each pick a toy of theirs (that they still play with from time to time) and donate it to a program that provides clothes, food, and toys to families with small children that need assistance.

    I also plan to write Christmas cards to soldiers – I hope it’s not too late!

    Best of luck to you, Anna, on your endeavors! I hope this post goes on to inspire others to pass it on.

    • Ashley,
      I think I am going to have to try this idea. Children have big and generous hearts and just need a little encouragement. 🙂
      Thank you for all you do!

  • This has been the best feel-good post! I love knowing that all these people (and more like them) live in this world. x

  • i help out at my local foodbank so hopefully my little bit with make someone slightly more comfortable this christmas. thank you, glad you liked the list, i’m hoping my gf sees it too!

    Did you check out the post before that one? I’d love for some feedback on it, we have just set up and Etsy shop –

  • i ve been thinking of volunteering somewhere but so far I will be bringing gloves and hats at my church for people in need. inspiring post!

  • This is truly inspiring, I love hearing ways that others are sharing love. Even the smallest efforts can go a long way! Glad you share posts like this.

  • I love and admire you!

    You hit the nail on the head my friend.

    I may borrow your Christmas handwritten note idea – that is such a special thing to send this time of year! It’s been on my heart lately to knock on the doors of my neighbors, especially the single ones who are so far from home, so thank you for that extra encouragement to do so. xo.

  • Thank you for this post 🙂 It really does remind you of what Christmas is all about, and I am going to take on some giving projects myself this Christmas, even if it is just little things, I’ll do what I can! Thanks for inspiring me!


  • I love this idea Anna! It’s so easy sometimes to get overwhelmed with all the things that need “fixing” in the world but I like the idea of starting small. Seeing ways to help locally and just get at it. I also really loved reading everyone’s inspiring little tidings of goodwill. Thanks for the encouragement! -jb.


Copyright © 2024 In Honor Of Design powered by chloédigital