12 Days of Christmas Giving

There are a large number of posts and articles circulating at this time of year, with gift guides for this, that, and the other person in your life. This is not one of those posts. Today we look at a different kind of giving: giving to those who actually need it.

Some traditions say the 12 Days of Christmas are those from the 25th of December to the 5th of January; others say the 26th of December to the 6th of January – aka Epiphany or Twelfth Night. You can choose either, or you can pretend to be a baker and have your “12” Days run from the 25th to the 6th.

Since this coming Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the fast that leads up to the feast of Christmas, this post could be construed as a little premature. But it never hurts to have time to mull over things. These days the “fast” of Advent seems to be more about the speed of the frenziedly busy days whizzing by, rather than abstaining from something.

(You’ve probably heard of the tradition of giving something up for Lent; perhaps we could consider choosing the least life-giving/most soul-destroying part of the December hustle and bustle and announce to the world that we have given it up for Advent.)

A post-it note stuck to a rough wall. In the glowing light it reads "To Do: Christmas"

But back to the 12 Days of Christmas Giving. The idea is that for each day, one chooses a charity to make a donation to. You might have favourite charities all lined up, or you might want to choose a number of charities working in an area you are passionate about. Or – and this is my personal favourite – you could actually choose Christmas-themed charities.

For example, to commemorate the Annunciation, you could make a donation to a charity supporting women & girls facing unexpected pregnancies, or single mothers. (Mary was a married woman by the time her baby arrived, but people back then could still count.)

A charity putting a roof over the heads of the homeless – or internally displaced people – would be a good way to remember that Jesus was born into a family that didn’t have stable housing (no pun intended).

And speaking of IDPs, a charity supporting refugees would be very Christmas-appropriate, since Jesus spent part of his early childhood as a refugee in Egypt.

You might make a donation to a charity supporting those living under an oppressive government, since that is most certainly what Jesus was born under. Perhaps a charity that helps people elude government surveillance, since Mary had to hit the road while bulk pregnant due to a census trying to keep tabs on everyone.

three surveillance cameras on one pole, pointing in various directions

And speaking of oppressive governments, you could give to an organization supporting bereaved parents, to commemorate the Slaughter of the Innocents.

You could even get very literal and give someone an actual sheep like the shepherds watching their flocks had, thanks to charities that allow you to pay for small farm animals to help support families in poverty.

A similar charity might allow you to contribute to education costs for those whose families cannot afford to keep them in school, in honour of the magi, among the most learned people of their time.

Less literally, you could look at the reasons for the season: why Jesus was born into this world at all. In Luke 4:18-19 he reads a prophecy on that very subject: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”

The poor, those in captivity (prisoners of conscience, perhaps, or those trapped in modern-day slavery), the blind, and the oppressed – no shortage of opportunities there.

photo of dilapidated Thai fishing boat

Or you could look at Jesus’ words to the followers of his imprisoned cousin in Matthew 11:4-5, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”

There are the blind again, and people with mobility issues (a prosthetics charity, perhaps?), those with leprosy – or Hansen’s Disease as it is now known – as well as the deaf, the poor again, and the dead. (I must admit I am not aware of any charities working in the area of raising the dead.)

You could do the 12 Days of Christmas Giving as an individual, or you could test the waters and see if your wider family are interested in clubbing together for charities, instead of the usual round of trying to find something at the mall not undesirable for those who already have all that they need and most of what they want.

bustling three-story mall with Christmas decorations

After all, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, and Jesus wasn’t born to ice the cake of privilege for those who already had it all. As his mother joyfully sang in praise of his Father (Luke 1:53), “He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.”

Please note: I have not named specific charities, but if you are interested (and perhaps short on time for research) I can make some suggestions – some of which are active internationally and some of which are more local to New Zealand.

One Reply to “12 Days of Christmas Giving”

  1. Wow! Such great ideas Deborah! I’ve sent the link on to some others to spread the word 🙂 . Taking a look at Christmas through a different lens, not just the “I hate Christmas” lens that I normally do…

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