A Time to Speak – Reflecting on the four gifts of Christmas

Sarah Wunderlin

In the age of phone apps and social media, I find myself spending time on Pinterest, researching everything from recipes, to home improvement projects, to gifts for the upcoming Christmas season.

A few years ago, I ran across a blog that included some thoughts on how to make Christmas less commercial, which is increasingly hard to do as we are bombarded with advertisements for the next great thing to buy this holiday season. The blog suggested limiting Christmas gifts for children to four gifts, which followed the guidelines of “something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.”

This simple rhyme serves as a way that we can shift how we think about Christmas so that it is less about what we receive and more about how the gifts we share have greater meaning; not only for the recipient, but also for the person sharing the gift. This season of Advent and Christmas, I like to think how supporting the Catholic Services Appeal right here in our own archdiocese fits into this saying.

Something you want

Growing up I remember there were always many things I would want this time of year. I blame all the commercials I saw while watching TV in the afternoon.

Now when I think about what I want to give or to receive, I know I want the gift to have an impact. A gift to the Catholic Services Appeal can make an impact to so many. The Appeal supports more than 100 ministries and services and each of them has a distinct mission. Whether ministering to families in all stages of life, supporting our young people as they grow and develop in their faith, or planting the seeds of vocations, gifts to the Catholic Services Appeal help make a huge impact across our community.

Something you need

As a child, I remember always receiving something I needed each Christmas, whether it was a new pair of shoes to make it through the second half of the school year or new pajamas.

Each year the Catholic Services Appeal gives the gift of something that is needed to so many each year, such as the Sister Visitor Center which helps people with food insecurity, making sure they are able to pay for medical prescriptions and household utilities. Gifts to the Catholic Services Appeal provide so many programs and services for people in need.

Something to wear

A Christmas gift of clothing to someone less fortunate is more than just making sure they have a new fashion piece to add to their wardrobe. It helps meet their basic need of clothing. Support to the Catholic Services Appeal helps meet the basic needs of so many with programs such as the Mother-Infant Care Program at Catholic Charities. This program provides expectant and new mothers with information on having and caring for a child, and supports the families by sharing with them clothes and other necessary baby items. This program helps empower some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Something to read

Finally, the last gift of Christmas, something to read. I find joy in taking time away from screens and diving into a good book. The Catholic Services Appeal helps give the gift of something to read by supporting the Office of Catholic Schools, the Catholic Enrichment Center, the Office of Faith Formation and many others. Support to the appeal helps give the gift of education at all ages and shares our faith to those who are Catholic and those who are not members of our faith. 

As the days tick closer to Christmas, I know I will start to feel overwhelmed with everything that I need to do to prepare for the holiday. I hope to find some solace in knowing that the gift I made to the Catholic Services Appeal has allowed someone else to receive the joy of having something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

I hope you experience the joy of Christmas this year and have a wonderful New Year.

Sarah Wunderlin is the director of annual giving for the Office of Mission Advancement.

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