Cassandra, her husband and two children have been keeping alive a beautiful Christmas tradition for now three generations. Each year they "adopt a family". A inspiring example of kindness and generosity. We'll let Cassandra tell us more about it in her own words.
My father grew up in a very religious household. Giving to others who had less was very important. Every holiday season my grandmother and grandfather would "adopt a family" for Christmas. This was a tradition my father (and most of his siblings) carried into their own families.
Sometime in November my parents would start asking around to find a family who would be having a rough Christmas. They would ask local churches, schools, even friends, if they knew of anyone. The reasons varied. Once it was a recent widow with children, once an immigrant family, another time a family that had lost employment, or maybe just gone through a rough divorce. But the idea was always to find a family that needed a little extra help.
My parents would then do a bit of sleuthing. They managed to find out what the basic needs of the family were (food, clothing, etc) and then what the family (especially kids) might like for Christmas gifts. Over the course of a few days we would go to the various shops and get everything (the days before online shopping). We usually bought food for a Christmas feast, presents for the children. Occasionally we even bought Christmas decorations for the family.
I remember an immigrant family that had just arrived from Laos who had no winter clothings. I mostly grew up in Minnesota which has especially cold winters. Our carts were full of boots, coats, hats, you name it. I remember purchasing toys that I wanted myself, knowing they were going to another child. We would take everything home and wrap it.
Then sometime between December 20-25ish, we would load up our car and leave everything on the doorstep as quietly as we could, bags of groceries, presents, one time even a live Christmas tree. As a child I enjoyed ringing the doorbell then running away as fast as I could. This wasn't about being recognized for doing something kind. Admittedly at the time, I didn't love this tradition. I didn't understand why my parents would spend their hard earned money on someone else. As an adult, I see the importance. I have continued this tradition with my family (as have my siblings and many of my cousins).
This is my daughter examining some Christmas decorations for the family we "adopted" this year.
We currently live in the Seattle area where you don't have to look very far to see poverty and homelessness. It is essential to me to teach my children the importance of being grateful for what we have, and to be generous with others. This season has the potential to bring out the best of humanity. I want my children to remember the holidays not as a time where they got presents, but as a time that they learned to develop kindness, gratitude, service, goodwill, charity, empathy, and all the other traits that make us into good people.
Yet, I am aware that not everyone can afford to adopt a family. There have been times where my husband and I certainly couldn’t afford to do it. One year, right out of college, we bought mittens for some people because that was the most we could do. It really isn’t about how much money you spend but that about reaching out to help others.
Follow Cassandra and her sweet family on Instagram : @cmheyn