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Put Your Money Where Your Heart is This Christmas

December 10, AD2015

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Nothing beats the scent of the deep green pine boughs, the contrasting bright red of ribbons, bows, and blooming poinsettias, and the robust love and laughter of family and friends. I love Santa Claus and the anticipation of  magic in the air, the nip of Jack Frost on a crisp, starlit night, and the glow of Rudolf’s nose. Maybe you look forward to meeting that special someone under the mistletoe, pulling out an old family recipe and baking those melt-in-your-mouth cookies, or walking arm in arm with parishioners singing carols as snowflakes gently swirl down from the heavens above.

I haven’t forgotten the meaning of Christmas, but I also admit to thoroughly enjoying the celebration and gift giving and bustle of the whole Christmas season. I don’t want to give that up. I like to give and receive gifts, but in today’s society where the Salvation Army has been kicked out of stores, where employees are forbidden to wish shoppers a Merry Christmas, and where Christmas Day itself has become a month-long experience in stress and excitement based solely upon the giving and getting of material things, how can we participate while still honoring our faith?

This summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Catholic Writer’s Guild conference and trade show in New Jersey. What I found there amazed me and made me want to shop for Christmas right then and there.

The Catholic Marketing Network trade show took up an entire warehouse with row upon row of table displaying Catholic materials of every kind. I expected to see a few people selling Rosaries and Crosses, maybe some pictures of Mary and the Saints, heck maybe there’d even be a few Catholics selling Bibles.

What I discovered was so much more and a reminder that there is more to our faith than what we first perceive. I walked into a giant warehouse of tables lining walls and booths back to back, forming aisles in the center of the floor. Each booth had its own Catholic flavor to it. I could have spent a week there because my heart felt like it belonged there.

I briefly wondered why more people didn’t shop Catholic, but quickly realized  it was for the same reasons I didn’t shop Catholic. I didn’t even realize this stuff was out there. Why would I look for something I didn’t know existed?

This Christmas season I’d like to offer you alternatives and ask you to consider some of these Christmas gifts.

Toys, Games, & More

Dolls From Heaven: This Saint Thérèse of Lisieux doll is beautiful and even has her own accessories similar to those of American Girl dolls. I also got to meet the Kiscek family at the conference and saw their first doll myself. You won’t be disappointed.

Holy Bears: These bears come with a saint’s name, special holy day remembrance such as First Holy Communion, and more, embroidered on their chests. This is the one thing my five-year-old absolutely had to have at the conference. It was instant love between him and his little, stuffed bear.

Catholic Supply: This site has everything from socks that help you walk confidently to lego-type building sets, tablets, and more for kids. It’s even got those outdoor light-up Nativity scenes so hard to find nowadays.

Catholic Company: Here you can find everything from Crucifixes to jewelry to special occasion gifts including holiday, Sacramental, and even tasteful sympathy gifts.

Clothing and Apparel 

Battle Saints :This company was started by a Mom who has seven family members serving in the Military. Here you can find saints to help you in battle, and battles are things we all face. What’s even better is  a portion of the proceeds go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. I’ll be choosing a saint to watch over each of my boys and then ordering them each a personalized bracelet. I may even be buying a scarf for myself.

Faith Factory T-Shirts: Looking for t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jewelry? This company has some really neat t-shirts, hoodies, gym bags and so on that help you be a walking, talking, living lamp in the dark.

Write for Her: I tied this scarf around my neck and let it rest close to my heart, it’s message just what I needed as a struggling single Mom, as an ex-wife of a man I Loved but who has told me I am no longer good enough for him  “I am amazing, strong, beautiful, kind, of great worth, honest, Loved. I am a daughter of God.”

Media, Plaques, and Such

Bosco Boys CD:  I saw two young men who are studying to be priests perform at an Array of Hope concert. They were amazing. The song, “You Can’t Be a Saint!” has been stuck in our heads since we first heard it. It’s one of the few Catholic rap CD’s I know of. It gives my kids the music they want and the message I want. Even as an “old lady”, as my kids call me,  I sing along.

Shop Mercy Christmas Cards: Today our Christmas cards show a shift from photos of the Holy Family, the Faithful Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and the precious Christ Child to photos of us with our children. Try bringing Christ back into Christmas with the greetings you send.

Saint Ignatius Press: This media company  delivers books, music, and movies. It even includes recent releases like The War Room, one that is definitely on my Christmas wish list.

PureFlix: Like NetFlix, this Christian based movie company gives you unlimited access to internet streamed movies you choose. I have a subscription to this and love it. I did find one movie that contradicted Catholic teaching, but it was not intended for young people. The majority are amazing films from straight faith-based to just good clean films. There are even Catholic based movies on the saints.

AFA Store: American Family Association’s movie store. This Christian media outlet only sells movies that meet a higher standard. Sure you can get most of the stuff on Amazon, but why not support and faith-based alternative instead?

CA Gift : These are some of the sweetest inspirational plaques, ornaments, and gifts out there.

Etsy Catholic: If you haven’t heard of Etsy yet, you will. Etsy is an online storefront for thousands of sellers specializing in handmade and vintage items. Check out the Catholic section.

Portraits of Saints on Easy: This is one particular Etsy store that donates 10% of its profits to Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter to help train new priests.

More…

Charitable Giving:  Please don’t forget to sacrifice a bit this season. While we take for granted so much, there are many who have little to nothing and count on the goodness in your heart to survive to next Christmas. Please consider giving to whichever organizations on this list touch your heart.

Catholic Resources Directory: Looking for something that’s not listed in this article? Chances are you’ll find it here.

This Christmas season, bring Christ into your shopping. Last year, I thought I was doing Good by completing most of my shopping in stores that support Christmas simply by saying Merry Christmas. This season, I know better. I’ll still shop at secular stores, but I’ll be adding Catholic and Christian gifts to those under the tree.

God Bless & Merry Christmas!

Photography: See our Photographers page.

Filed in: Money & Economics • Tags:

About the Author:

Strahlen is a single mom of five boys. The fifth little guy was a surprise pregnancy and her husband left suddenly in the middle of it for a woman he met on Facebook. The next few years would bring financial, emotional, and spiritual challenges beyond her imagining, but they would also bring a faith she never knew existed. Strahlen is now a life coach working with women in transition and hopes to reach out to other divorced Catholics to let them know there is Hope and Love in the Catholic church. Today, she and her five sons work hard for everything that comes their way, but they are also successful, happy, and faithful. They enjoy camping, sports, and (highly competitive) board games. And if you're wondering about that last little Baby Boy - He is a bundle of giggles and goofiness. He is such a gift to his mother and brothers and he constantly proves that God's plans are greater than our own! Check out more of their story at Single Mom Smiling.

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  • Guy McClung

    Strahlen-If you get this article to my wife, I might as well file now for bankruptcy. Thank you so much for this, so needed; esp if you have grandkids. Hate to appear dumber (more dumb?) but could you consider doing another article re what is the Catholic Writers Guild and what it does? and to whom would it be beneficial and why? Merry CHRISTmas! Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

    • Oh GREAT idea Guy! I’m always looking for new ideas and would love to write about the Catholic Writer’s Guild and what it does. I have a post planned (in my head anyway) for the 19th, which is my next posting date, and two ideas for the new year and Valentine’s Day that I want to use to continue my divorced/single parent oitreach, but I will DEFINITELY work on the writer’s guild piece too. Thank You!!! I wish I could repay you by retracting the article before your wife sees it and spoils those grandchildren, but what fun would that be? 😉

      Thanks again!

      God Bless & Merry Christmas!

      PS San Antonio is on a short list of my, “I am gonna get there and maybe never leave someday places.” I’ve heard it’s beautiful. 🙂