Too much stuff: How one small gift made a huge difference one Christmas

Nov 12, 2019
When did gift-giving become so complicated? We give gifts to show someone that we value and care for them, but sometimes it’s not that simple. 

Every year, each member of my family makes their Christmas wish list. Not for Santa, but for the family – the lists make it easier for everyone to buy presents for each other. 

I was making my list a few years ago and found myself drawing a blank. I went to my bedroom – my closet was bursting with clothes and shoes, many unworn, some even with tags on! My bathroom shelves were stocked full of body washes and lotions, drawers filled with skincare products and makeup. 

And then there was my linen closet - I can’t even tell you everything that’s stored there, but I’ll tell you this – it wasn’t just bedding and towels. It’s where I put rarely used items: sewing machine, poker set, telescope, curling wand, foot spa, etc. I had too much stuff!

Still, I had to write my Christmas wish list. Writing “I don’t need anything” wouldn’t fly with my family – they would end up buying me something anyway. 

I decided to write my list, suggesting more experiential, consumable-type gifts like movie passes, tickets to an art gallery, gift certificates for a dinner out, or tickets to the theatre. And I also decided to put a new item on my list, something unexpected: Hens and Roosters from the World Vision gift catalogue.

It was unexpected because it was a gift for me that would go beyond just me. My family now had the option to purchase a charitable gift in my name. 

When my family asked me why, I told them I already have too much stuff, and this gift of livestock can help a family who needs it, like Sabontu’s. 

a little Ethiopian girl smiles and holds a chicken up to the camera.
The gift of hens and roosters can help improve the lives of families like Sabontu’s. Photo: Dennis the Prescott

Eight-year-old Sabontu’s family lives in a farm town in eastern Ethiopia. Although her parents work hard to support their family of eight, there isn’t enough money to consistently put food on the table. The children’s education suffers as well, because there isn’t enough in the family budget for school supplies. 

The gift of hens and roosters can help improve the lives of Sabontu’s family. The chickens provide nutrition and an ongoing source of income and hope for a brighter future. 

That Christmas eve, as my family gathered around the table to eat, we laughed and shared stories. We expressed gratitude for the blessings we received that year and wished each other more blessings in future. And we opened presents. 

A group of people posing for the camera around a Christmas tree
Andrea's family at Christmas. Photo courtesy of Andrea Arrogante

The best gift came from my brother-in-law – it was a chicken stuffy he picked out to represent the charitable gift of Hens and Roosters he gave in my name!

Knowing that the gift of livestock could help a family in need warmed my heart. I imagine a family like Sabontu’s gathering around the table with enough food to eat, laughing and sharing stories, and looking forward to a brighter future. And that’s pretty awesome “stuff”!

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