This is the first blog post and an introduction into what we are doing. However, in order to understand what we are doing and where we are going with this... you first need to understand where we are coming from.
Hop in your time machines and go back to the turn of the millennium. We were a small clan of three siblings who had all been married off to the loves of our respective lives. Over the years, we have been blessed with children and our numbers have grown. We have also moved away to different states following careers and the will of the Lord. Likewise, we wanted to find a way to celebrate Christmas with each other, but we each recognized that it was getting increasingly expensive to buy presents for each niece, nephew, and cousin. So we came up with new ideas. First we decided to swap gifts by family. Each year we would rotate who gave gifts to what family. This worked well for a couple of years, but as families grew unevenly, we wanted to find a more equitable way of giving gifts. Then we moved one to drawing names. We put everyone's name in hat and each member of each family drew one name. This way, everyone was responsible for one gift. It was more equitable, and it worked well for quite a few years. We would draw names each November as we all met together. However, as the economy tanked, we traveled less... and wanted to save money as we could... and we somehow dropped this and have not exchanged gifts with each other as cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and whatever remaining familial connections I may be missing. Then we worked out our calendars and made sure that we all met together for Thanksgiving in 2013. Aunt Katherine had seen this idea elsewhere and was impressed. So, she pitched the idea to us before our family dinner. It is as follows: We will exchange names as we did before, with the following caveat: we could not give gifts or spend any money on each other. Instead, we will provide service. Now, this is rather unique, because we are not providing service to the family member whose name we drew. Instead, we will do service to someone else, and that act of service will be in honor of the family member whose name we drew. So... that is what this is. Call it what you will; pay it forward, doing good, selfless service, or simply being awesome. Simply put, it is service. Personalized to those who need it, in honor of those who would do it. It is inspired by the scripture from the Book of Mormon, which reads as follows:
And so, we invite you to join us in our Christmas gifts to each other, as we reveal our gifts our actions for the first time on Christmas morning. We are using this blog so that we can read stories, show pictures, and share stories with each other over the miles that separate us. We thank you for being a part of this.