Several years ago we experienced a very stressful Holiday season. My daddy had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma Brain cancer just a few months before the season began. If you aren’t familiar with Glioblastoma cancer, it is incurable, and typically the life expectancy is very short after diagnosis. At the time I had a one yr old and four yr old. My family lives 3 hours away, so I wasn’t around every day. Therefore, even our once a week or every other weekend visit was always shocking as my daddy was going downhill so quickly. He ended up being admitted to an in-house Hospice facility the Tuesday before Christmas. That Christmas I learned what was most important in my life. When we celebrated Christmas in a Hospice facility, it caused me to reevaluate my priorities. That Christmas I didn’t care about presents. I can’t even remember if we put decorations on our Christmas tree or what foods we ate. Instead, what I remember the most was the generosity of people and how much I valued spending time with those, I love the most.
As a result, the Holiday Season became much more purposeful for my family and me from that point forward. In previous years, I had allowed myself to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season where I stressed about decorating, picking out the perfect gifts, spending too much money, and spending hours cooking and baking. I decided from that point forward that for my family, we were going to intentionally create an atmosphere of peace in our home and that we would be purposeful about what we chose to be a part of. We decided to be conscious of our spending and made a commitment not to overspend or go into debt for gifts. Also, we would serve others because if we didn’t model generosity and servanthood to our children, then the chances of them “picking it up” on their own are dismal. My daddy was such a giver, and this is one way we can carry on his legacy.
Ways for Giving Presence:
- As a family, we participate in the Love the City project through our church. We serve our community be helping put together bags of food for over 500 families. Then, we serve those families by giving out those bags of food and helping carry them to their cars. We also serve as a family in the Magi Project through our church. We help set up a toy story of brand new toys in our gymnasium, and then a couple of days later we walk with families through the toy story and help them pick out brand new toys that their children will love. My kids see the excitement on the parent’s faces as they are provided everything they need for their children. The best part of our day is the incredible honor to walk beside these families and meet them where they are through love and service.
- We bake together as a family and share our goodies with friends and relatives. We’ve done this since my big kids were little and now not only are they capable of making homemade goodies without my help, we have created so many wonderful memories in the kitchen together. By doing so, it helps to keep us focused on how we can give to others instead of the Holiday Season being all about what we can get.
- Every year we choose children’s names off the Angel Tree at the mall or through a foster child program and purchase together all the items on the list. Our kids get excited and talk about these kids like they know them. It’s been a fabulous way for our children to gain an understanding of how much they truly have and that giving to others is one of the greatest, most satisfying gifts.
What we have learned even in being generous, we have to make sure that we don’t overspend. Sometimes that means sacrificing in one area to make room to give in others. I believe that we should give freely and abundantly of our innate gifts and talents. However, when it comes to monetary giving we want to give within our means so that we don’t cause undue financial stress. By focusing on the moments that matter most and being careful to preplan, we can do just that. That doesn’t mean that we don’t give generously because we do. We just have to be intentional to perhaps cut spending in other areas to make room. One way to plan for the Holiday Season is through the onUp Movement that SunTrust launched to inspire millions of Americans toward financial confidence so that time can be focused on moments that matter the most instead of financial stress. SunTrust has created a fabulous online resource that includes a holiday planning guide, tips for saving and giving through the holiday season, and a holiday budget tool. After all, the most meaningful gift you can give your loved ones (and yourself) isn’t a present you buy—it’s presence in every meaningful moment.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.
The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.
Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.