From Griswolds to Giving

How quickly time travels. As I look at my calendar I realize it is that time of the month year again; I am beginning to feel bloated the holiday spirit.

Our neighbors (on both sides) finished decorating the outside of their houses Thanksgiving weekend. If you are familiar with the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, then you are familiar with the Griswold family. For those of you familiar with the Griswolds, we live next door to the family – on both sides.

Truthfully, we love the neighbors’ tacky Christmas lights. However, once our Griswold neighbors decorate their houses, our boys begin to pressure me and Rob to get our house decorated. Pressure during the holidays?! Never!

Yesterday, we started the process of decorating the inside of the house. This morning, the boys were bickering beside the advent calendar, both wanting to place Mary where she  belongs on the 1st of December and both wanting to place baby Jesus where he belongs on the 25th of December.

“Charlie, I get Mary and Baby Jesus, and I’ll let you do two days in a row.”

“But Joe, I want to do Baby Jesus.”

“Okay, I’ll write down two numbers and we’ll put it in a box. I’ll pick the number out of the box, and if I pick the 15, then I get to put Baby Jesus on.”

After four drawings … “That’s not fair, Joe! You were always looking for 15 when you picked it.”

“No I wasn’t.”

“Guys,” I say, as I intervene. “One of you gets the first day and one of you gets the last day. Whoever does the first day, the other person will do the last day.”

“Okay, Charlie. You can have Baby Jesus.”

“Thanks, Joe.”


Between now and Christmas, you will read many posts about the holidays. Some will share reasons why they love the holidays, while others will share reasons why they do not like the holidays. Some will write how their lack of faith leaves them feeling slighted by the dominance of Christianity, while others will proclaim their Christianity loudly this month and put it back in the closet with the new year.

I’m not sure how you feel about the holidays, I simply hope you will think about helping others. Non-profit organizations and charities throughout the world need help all year long. But, just like retail organizations rely on Black Friday to keep the numbers in the black, non-profit and charitable organizations rely on the holidays to ensure they can continue to fill the needs of others.

Clark Howard's 21st Christmas Kids, courtesy clarkhoward(dot)com21 years ago, Georgia radio personality Clark Howard organized ‘Clark Howard’s Christmas Kids‘. He took it upon himself (and his listeners) to help children living in the foster community receive gifts. This Friday, for the first time, I am going to take my boys to see Clark Howard in action. The boys and I are going to go through the book of children’s names and wishes. We will walk through the store and buy something for one of the children in foster care. I am going to show my boys the true meaning of giving – the true meaning of Santa – the true meaning of doing for others.

By the way, if you access the above mentioned website, you can participate in buying gifts for the children, too.  One more thing regarding Clark’s Christmas Kids, because I do think it adds to the story, Clark Howard is a devout Jewish man. This is not about a particular religion – this is about giving and filling a need where the need literally exists.

Regardless of your faith (or lack thereof), I am sure you give gifts to your friends and loved ones. If you find yourself in the need of a gift, I would like you to consider buying your items from organizations that give back.

“Designs by Heart” is a place you can go to get and give back. Designs by Heart offers a variety of items for sale, while donating a portion of every sale to a charitable organization. Recently, I purchased a lovely bracelet for myself. I love it, and I love knowing an organization received a donation from my purchase. A direct link to their store is here: Designs by Heart Store.

Do you use a calendar? Have you purchased your calendar for 2012 yet?

I have a friend whose oldest son had a heart transplant as a newborn. Now, her son is a healthy 7yr old, and he is friends with my son, Joe. Joe’s friend is famous, too, because he is part of the 2012 Heart Friends Beads of Courage calendar. As stated on the website, “proceeds from the sale of this calendar will directly benefit The Beads of Courage® Cardiac Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Sibley Heart Center. Included in this calendar are stories of hope and healing and photos of patients displaying their courageous stories thru their Beads of Courage® Collections.”

Go snag a 2012 calendar … maybe I can get Xander to autograph it for you!

Don’t have money to spare? Then please consider accessing the website, “Share with Childrens“, and send a message to the children staying at Children’s Hospital during this holiday season. Messages received by December 15th will be delivered to the children during the last two weeks of the year, via closed-circuit televisions throughout the hospital.

Tied to the “Share with Children” campaign, Verizon Foundation is donating $1 to Children’s for every “view” of our video up to $25,000. So, please take a moment to watch the video, and share the video with all your friends and family. Making a difference is easy.

Thank you for your time. If you know of other organizations that give back, please leave a comment and a link. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have Christmas lights to hang. Silly Griswold neighbors…


Please consider donating to charitable organizations this holiday season and year-round. Thank you!

40 thoughts on “From Griswolds to Giving

  1. Lenore there is no better way to write a post dedicating to Christmas. You gave some great ideas here.
    I really hope that, your readers are going to keep these ideas in their minds during the preparation for celebration of Christmas; rather than just hitting a like or giving a comment on this post of yours . By following your ideas, anyone can make those innocent children part of their celebration. It’s going to give few more reasons to celebrate for sure. When it comes to children or old people i usually get little bit emotional, so may be these words are coming due to emotions only. But still i really hope that everyone will follow these simple & great ideas of yours. Thanks for sharing this honest & thought provoking post with us.

    I do not have much idea about Christmas, but as my dad’s birthday is on that day. So it gives all of us a reason to celebrate for sure. And your post made me realize, that day is coming near, and also made me sad, as i can’t be part of my dad’s b’day celebration this year.

    One more thing please change your text color to black while posting, my eyesight is becoming worst and worst with each passing year. 🙂 So that it can help old people like me to read your posts.

    1. I’m sorry you won’t be able to join the family to celebrate your Dad’s birthday, Arindam. Hopefully you can visit him soon.
      Thanks for reading, commenting and tweeting my post. I appreciate it. I’ll see what I can do with regards to the color of the text. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Thanks for bringing the true spirit of Christmas to us. When my children were small we bought a present for a child each year to put beneath the tree at a local department store. This tradition is continued by my children with theirs and I continue to do so too. It is so important for our children to realise that there is so much more to Christmas than receiving gifts. Thanks you.

    1. Judith, you created a wonderful tradition for your family. How nice to see the tradition continue as they grow older, too. I look forward to sharing the experience of ‘giving’ with my boys later this week. May the tradition continue… Thank you for visiting, Judith.

  3. Thank you for a refreshing post full of good cheer and good ideas. Glad to know you are teaching the habit of true giving with your young family. There is much needed in the world and as we always hear, the giver gets as much from the giving as does the one who receives. Oh yes, please be careful when the neighbors plug in the lights 🙂

    1. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the theme, Winsome. Teach ’em young, right? Now, here’s hoping the lessons stick. (smile) And I agree with you wholeheartedly, one gets a great deal by giving. Happy holidays!

    1. Thank you very much, Patti! I genuinely appreciate any and every award I receive. I may not always follow the rules, but I am grateful for the nod. I look forward to checking out your post. Thank you.

  4. I’ve resorted to the “understatement” for decorations. If I had a nativity scene, that is all I would put out. But I don’t have one. However, I have a large angel who lights up the entrance to my home just fine. That’s all, folks.

    She gets LOTS of comments and compliments…

    1. Less is more, Soul Dipper. One can decorate their house from top to bottom and still have just a sliver of Christmas cheer in their heart. Whereas the simplest – dare I say – Charlie Brown Christmas tree may be the only thing a person needs to truly feel the spirit. Whatever makes your heart sing is all you need. Thank you for stopping by my place.

    1. Hahahahahaha! I love it … exhausting, isn’t it? Here – have an egg nog, you’ll feel better.
      I’m taking you up on that, Nancy. Thanks for the offer! Christmas is about the egg nog, too!

  5. Now THIS is a great idea for celebrating the holidays. (and the rest of the year for that matter…)Thanks for the links, Lenore. I love the Share with Children one. Will be checkign it out right away.

    1. Isn’t the Share with Children sweet? Can you imagine having your kids spending the holidays in the hospital? Breaks my heart. I love the idea of sharing happy wishes with them, in an effort to lift their spirits. I hope you do check out the website, Darla – and share it with your friends!

  6. This was a wonderfully written and well-timed post. I’ve seen the headlines about the debauchery known as “Black Friday” and I’ve very happy to see someone trying to get us pointed back to “what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown!”

    Beautiful post and I will check out your links 🙂

    1. Thank you very much, MJ. I appreciate your kind words. Linus got the story right, for certain. Thank you, too, for checking out the links.
      Glad you visited me, MJ. 🙂 – Lenore

  7. Those sound like great links. I’ll be sure to check them out. One year I donated to a local charity instead of buying presents for anyone. Not only did it feel good to give back, it felt great not to stress over what to buy everyone. That’s a real win-win!

    1. I hope you do check out the links, Amy. Sometimes I feel guilty giving and donating, because the feeling I get by giving is great. Seems a bit selfish to give to others, just so you can feel good – but, well – it does feel good. I love the fact that you donated to a local charity in lieu of presents. Nice job! It is a win-win for certain!

  8. I remember Clark Howard from when I lived in Atlanta, but I don’t remember his Christmas Kids program. I will definitely check that out. I think it’s a wonderful way to give back.

    You and I were thinking along the same lines because I was compiling a list of charitable organizations that people may not know. I think that will show up on a Friday Five coming soon. 🙂

    1. Thanks for checking out Clark’s Christmas Kids, Jackie. I appreciate the Tweet, too. I look forward to reading your Friday Five. Getting the word out on charitable organizations is always a good thing – in my opinion. As always, I appreciate you stopping by the neighborhood!

  9. Children should be exempt from Illness until they’re at least twenty-five, most especially at Christmas. Until then I’ll do whatever I can to help.

    Thanks for the website information!

    1. Oh Bridget, I don’t even try to keep up, much to the dismay of my boys. I figure I’ll let the Griswolds pay the higher electric bills, and I’ll just sit back and enjoy the lights. And honestly – I love the lights. Thank you for visiting! Come back again anytime!

  10. For years I’ve tried to convince Chevy Chase to come and decorate my apartment building for me. Believe it or not he’s not the best about returning my calls.
    Seriously, though… a wonderful post, Ms. D – thank you for sharing this!

  11. Good morning!
    Thank you for stopping by my blog today and leaving such a sweet comment. I’ve noticed your comments on some of the other blogs I visit regularly, but this is my first time visiting your site. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.
    Great information about these organizations and the opportunity to help others!

    1. Good morning, Dianna. Like you said, I’ve seen ‘you ’round’ this here blogosphere via your comments. Clearly we have good taste in blogs to read, eh? I am glad you stopped by my place, and I am glad I got over to your place, too. Hope to see you again!

  12. I love Joey and Charlie’s conversation. Great intervention, Mom and great lead in for Christmas stories/ideas that need to be told not sold. Your heart is so big and from it you wrote a shining message.

    1. Thank you, Georgette. I love it when their conversations are slow enough to allow me to jot them down in my mind. I was able to recall their conversation word by word for this post. I am glad you felt it was a good fit. They get the true meaning of Christmas, which pleases me. And, I am working to ensure they get the true meaning of the holiday season in general – giving to others.

  13. Dagnabit! You forgot the tissue alert with the video. Now I’m hiding tears from my 9 year old, who is doing his best to convince me that he’s sick and needs to stay home from school. Another wonderful post.

    We have a number of local businesses that provide opportunities to gift a family or an individual child at Christmas time. And my son’s school collects food to put together food baskets for needy families. Keep up the great writing!

    1. Ding dangity, M2M, I am sorry! I should have given a tissue alert.
      I’m sorry your son is ‘sick’. I know how getting to school can be tough for him. Maybe you could show him the video. He may find he is more eager to get to school, if only to bring more food items to share with others in need. 🙂
      Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your visit.

  14. Great story, and great ideas to share. I’ve heard Clark Howard’s show up here in Illinois and really like his common-sense, thrifty advice. Now knowing that he’s such a nice guy makes me like him more.

    Better invest in a back-up generator in case the holiday decor competition knocks out the local power grid!

    1. Ha! I should invest in a backup generator, Peg – good call!
      If you listen to Clark on a regular basis, you’ll hear him broadcast live tomorrow (Friday) and next Friday from Wal-Mart. And yes, he is a great guy. Incredibly great guy. I am glad you ‘know’ of him. He makes dorky cool.
      Thank you for visiting!

  15. I hopped over to you from Patti’s blog because she nominated us both for the Kreativ Award today. I have to say I really did laugh out loud at the first thing I read of yours! I’ll definitely be back to read some more 😀

    Best wishes, Pam

    1. Welcome to the neighborhood, Pam. I am going to head to your neighborhood soon. I appreciate you stopping by for a visit. I am glad I managed to get a good laugh from you. Look forward to seeing you again. Thank you!

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