The other day Logan woke up and ran into the living room. Under the Christmas tree were a bunch of presents that weren’t there the night before, and no it wasn’t Christmas morning. He immediately ran over to one, picked it up and declared that all of these presents were for him! He wanted to open them. I gently took the present and knelt down. I explained that those are gifts for his Uncle Sean, and all his cousins coming this weekend. Then the tears started. You know, the big crocodile tears that stream down and make you feel guilty, even though there was no reason to feel that way.
Not exactly how I was expecting the morning to start but I was trying to roll with it. 🙂 I calmly explained that he would have gifts on Christmas morning, but it wasn’t Christmas morning just yet and we needed to save these gifts for his cousins. After about 15 minutes, I got him calmed down and he came to terms with the fact that those gifts under the tree are not for him. Not going to lie, I half expected to walk into the living room and see them all unwrapped at one point. Thankfully that didn’t happen!
This moment got me thinking. I know Logan is still learning and working through what Christmas is all about. I just wonder if I am teaching him how to be giving. Am I taking the time to help others and give to people without expecting anything in return? I know he’s still young and it may take a while for him to truly understand what giving and receiving is all about. I also know that kids learn best from watching and following their parents examples. So, I need to make sure that we are showing him what giving is in our day-to-day life, and not just at Christmas.
I started thinking about some things that could be done as a family around the holidays. Things that present the opportunity to show children how to give and not expect anything in return. The problem is, there are so many ways to do this and I’m learning money is not the only way. So I was trying to think outside the box and come up with unique ways that we could give. God’s been showing me lately, that I can do this with my time, resources, and the things I already own. Money isn’t something we have a lot of right now. I get so frustrated sometimes because I feel like I can’t help people and do things the way I want. The reality is, my time is the most valuable thing right now. So I’m looking for ways to give and to do it without expecting anything in return. Here are a few ideas I had.
1) Participate In An Angel Tree
You know that Christmas tree you see set up in the local stores that have little white angles on them, with children’s ages and their Christmas list on it? That is an Angel Tree. This organization is for children who have a parent in prison. You can read more about what they do here. This is a fantastic way to teach your kiddos how to give. They can be involved in the whole process, from picking out the Angel, to choosing the gifts, wrapping them and delivering them.
2) Adopt A Family In Need
This is something we have talked about doing this year. One thing I want to caution on though, is to approach this carefully. Don’t just run out and try to help the first family that you think might be in need. I would recommend getting in contact with your local church or soup kitchen to find out if there is a family that could use some help. You can try helping out by paying a bill or you could take a meal and gifts for them!. There are a number of ways that you can help a needy family.
3) Find A Neighbor That Could Use A Helping Hand
In our neighborhood, there are quite a few elderly people. Also, we get a lot of snow. I’m thinking I can take Logan, and have him help me shovel a driveway and sidewalk for one of these neighbors. Granted, I know that he can’t really shovel, but he is watching. Letting him see these moments are just as important. If you don’t live in a place where there is snow, take a meal, or some cookies. Find a neighbor that could use help with something that requires your time. Make sure and bring your children along to help and be a part of it.
4) Sing Christmas Carols at a Nursing Home
Last Christmas we did this for the first time and we all loved it! We arranged ahead of time, to go and sing carols on Christmas day. So, my dad loaded up his guitar and we headed over to the local nursing home. Logan was only two at the time, so he didn’t really sing, but he visited with all the people and just really made their days. It wasn’t much, but just taking an hour of our day, and spending time with people, who seem to usually get forgotten, was so worth the time. We are going to be doing it again this year. I can’t wait! Also, the same thing can be done at a hospital. Just be sure to call ahead to see if it’s okay.
5) Volunteer At A Soup Kitchen
I’ll be honest, I haven’t jumped at doing this one with Logan just yet. I just feel like he needs to be a little older so he can actually be a help and understand a little more of what is going on. So if you have older children, sign your whole family up and head to your local soup kitchen for an evening. This would be something great to do monthly, or even just a few times a year!
6) Ask Your Child To Pick 5 of their Toys To Donate
I don’t know about your kids, but my child has more toys than he needs. Don’t get me wrong, he plays with just about all of them pretty regularly, but it’s still far more than he needs. I think it would be a good idea, as he gets a little older, to ask him to pick 5 toys he would like to donate to a child that doesn’t have as much. This is something really great to do right before Christmas and maybe even again before a birthday. It keeps the toy count down and make another child happy!
These are just a few simple ways that you can take the time to give as a family. I think that being the example to our children is the best way to teach them anything. So, I am trying to have a giving heart and attitude as I go about my day, not just at Christmas, but all the time. What are some ways that you and your family give at Christmas or any time of year? Do you have a creative way to teach your child about giving? I’d love to hear about it.
* If you are enjoying our blog, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter!