If you're anything like me, you've been counting down the days till Christmas since Halloween. I just love, love this time of year...it'a a combination of the build-up that comes with knowing I'll be with all my family for a long stretch of time, being surrounded by festive lights and decor, the giddy excitement I get just thinking about our holiday traditions, and reminiscing over favorite Christmas memories. Some of my strongest and fondest memories are from Christmas' past and with each year new magical memories are made.
To me, Christmas is all about family, friends, and giving. The older I get the more I realize just how much I have - when asked what I want for Christmas I'm always answering with, "I don't need anything!" - and while the abundance makes me feel so much gratitude it also shines perspective on the reality that so many go without. This year I'm inspired by Altar'd State to re-thinking what it means to give. Altar'd State is a retail brand with a core mission of giving back in everything that they do and this season they're encouraging everyone to give warmth with their #ASGiveWarmth campaign. The idea is up to interpretation but I have a few ideas of how to put the idea into action...
Does anyone else nerd out for nostalgic Christmas movies and books? Sally and I recently inherited a huge collection of holiday children’s books (our own from way back when) from our mama and as I was going through them the other week I felt a rush of memories then quickly recognized how so many of the stories share common themes. From “The Polar Express” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” to “A Christmas Carol,” so many of the tales we’ve loved since childhood focus on believing (faith in what can’t always be seen) and share the message of the holidays being about people (and not things).
A Christmas memory that really hit home for me happened as recently as a few years ago. My grandparents have always been notoriously generous when it came to holiday gifts – think thoughtful, exciting, and typically grand. But several years ago we (my siblings, cousins and I) didn’t get presents to unwrap, but modest envelopes containing a simple message: this year we were being given the gift of giving. Our grandparents told us that we each had a sum of money that they would donate to the cause or charity of our choice in our individual names…all we had to do was write to them with the name of an organization and why we went compelled to give to it. Such an incredible moment. Not only did they demonstrate how important it is to practice what you preach (my grandparents have always voiced how important it is to be generous and philanthropic) but their gift made us all feel so much happier than any sort of item that we would have unwrapped and kept for ourselves.
At a time when influencers like me are encouraged to treat Christmas as a an opportunity to buy, buy, buy it feels like a breath of fresh air to have Altar’d State promoting the type of thinking that’s more like, “Of course, buy pieces that feel special and authentic to you and those you love! But also consider giving back.”
Altar’d State has never been shy about stating that they’re a retail company wanting to fill a gap in the industry and change the world for the better. With a mission to “stand out for good and do their part to change the world for the better” guiding all that they do, they’ve been successful in growing their presence to over 80 boutique locations across the country. With values, faith, and a strong commitment to community Altar’d State has been able to offer fashionable and quality goods while inspiring customers to give back. To spark that inspiration, the brand is leading by example…funding local community service hours for employees, donating a portion of sales from each store to local communities, partnering with brands that have similar missions of giving back, and starting an Altar’d State Brand that helps feed, clothe, and educate children around the world.
I’m really happy to say that all my Christmas shopping is finished. I went with a “less is more” approach but I really feel like what I bought is special and specific to each of the people on my list. I even found some cute chew toys for my pups and a cozy pair of mittens while looking through Altar’d State’s gift guides! Since I’m feeling compelled to join the #ASGiveWarmth initiative I’ve come up with a few ideas of how to do more than just making my list, shopping, and crossing off to-do’s.
For my family and friends I’m going to spend time writing handwritten notes. Some will be serious, some will be funny, but I hope that all of them convey how much these individuals mean to me and how grateful I am to have them in my life. No gift could compare equate to the love they show me on a daily basis and I’m hoping that putting pen to paper will give them warm fuzzy feelings and maybe even result in a Christmas memory they’ll always cherish.
To give warmth to those I don’t know I’ll be continuing my annual tradition of selecting several names from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Sally and I have been doing this ever since we moved to Dallas and it always feels so good to be contributing to the cause that serves over 45,000 children in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Taking a cue from my grandparents, I’m going to be contributing to a couple of my favorite non profit organizations. Whenever I start to think that what I have to give seems monetarily insignificant I try to remind myself that giving is giving is giving and that all donations make a difference towards a greater goal.
If you’re feeling inspired to join the #ASGiveWarmth campaign I highly encourage joining in the movement to spread the message about how it’s the season for giving and doing good for others!!