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The Spirit of Christmas: It’s not about getting or even giving the perfect gift or the best gift. It’s about bringing joy to others and being grateful for everything you already have. The true spirit of Christmas is a state of mind. How do we interact with strangers? How did we treat the cashier at check out? Did we make time to make meaningful interactions with our loved ones?
Pearls With Purpose began shipping relief supplies into the Philippines back in 2001. Twenty years ago. I was born in California, raised in America, and when I began Pearls With Purpose I had never traveled outside of those borders.
I didn’t understand poverty, shanties, squatters, or children begging in the streets. I didn’t have a clear vision of what ⅔ of the world's population struggled with on a day to day basis. I was a mom of five kids under the age of 12 and their needs were met because of the employment of their father.
One thing I did have a strong understanding of was the spirit of Christmas. I knew Christmas was so much more than a present under the tree. I had grown up in a family that spent the Christmas season in service.
Some years it was soup kitchens. Some years it was the 12 days of Christmas for families in need (those were my favorite– I loved doorbell ditching for 12 nights in a row)! Some years it was delivery of wrapped packages in the guise of “Santa's Elves” to families struggling with unemployment or other challenges. Every year it was a focus on others.
The first year that we sent items to the Philippines I received a plethora of emails from those who took time to seek out an internet cafe to send an email of thanks. Those brief broken-English sentences that ALWAYS ended in gratitude are forever imprinted on my mind and heart.
“My daughter have new dress this year, first time, many thanks to you.”
“We open the can of fruit cocktail for Christmas dinner, such a joy to have something so delicious for Christmas dinner this year, thank you.”
“My kids never have books, now they have, they love to read and see the pictures, thank you.”
“The many foods you send are so delicious, thank you.”
That first year, because the items were arriving just before Christmas, our director created bright Christmas red t-shirts from one of the co-ops of one of our Artisans who was doing screen printed t-shirts. In bold white and green lettering it said Wendy Bird’s CTR, with a wreath. I asked, “What does the CTR mean?”
She replied, “Oh, these families have never remembered Christmas and the holidays because they have nothing, but this year, because of you, they WILL, so it stands for Christmas To Remember, because now they want to remember this Christmas for always!”
And it was a Christmas To Remember by all—dresses, books and food were hand delivered to hundreds of families from that one shipment that arrived just before Christmas.
One shipment that was generously filled by hundreds of us here in America a month prior as we began our giving season in November.
The beautiful cycle of service and giving circumnavigated the globe that year and for 20 years since.
It’s not about the gift wrapped packages but the joy we bring to one another with our willingness to give. It’s the smiles that we put on each other's faces, the anticipation of gifts not yet seen, and the special unexpected surprises from people who care that make the season so memorable. The true spirit of Christmas isn’t found under a tree but in the hearts of people like you and me.
In the spirit of a true Filipina I express my thanks to you in Tagalog fashion for serving so many through your support and love of Pearls With Purpose.
Salamat Po and Mahal Kita- from my heart to yours. Merry Christmas!