When the TV is on at our house I dread the commercials. Because that's when I know there will be two 5 year olds saying, "Oh! I want that!" and "Mommy, can we get that!" There is something about this that grates on me so much. I know that it is natural. They're 5. They want everything. But oh, how I want to instill in them hearts of giving too. Christmas seems like a particularly hard battle. I fight to balance the excitement and fun of getting gifts with the obedience and joy of giving. I harp on being grateful and cognisant of the abundance we have compared to the loss and need of so many others. Really I just have to release and trust that the life that we live is placing them in position to learn to look outside of themselves and to see the hurt in the world around them. I hope that throughout the year, but especially at this time, that our focus on celebration and giving at home is equally balanced with giving in the community. Here are some ways we're placing ourselves in positions to teach our children this year.
We participated in Operation Christmas Child at our church. A very popular and child-relevant mission. The kids loved filling their boxes and now, when you pay on-line, you get a tracking code that allows you to follow your box on-line all the way to the county that yours goes to. My kiddos love checking in on their box and seeing that we didn't just hand it over to the church and that was the end of its journey.
We took a shift ringing bells at a Salvation Army collection bucket at a local Dillons.
I liked that the kids could see others giving. Typically all we see in the stores is people buying. Consumerism at its finest. Spending two hours watching people selflessly give was such a blessing.
We had each kiddo pick out a "birthday present to Jesus" from Samaritan's Purse's Christmas catalogue. They love flipping through the book and we read to them the need for each item. Taryn chose a sheep. Z picked some fruit trees. I picked for the little girls. : )
We filled "Blessing Bags".
I was so happy when I read this idea because there have been several times when we have seen hurting people standing at street corners with a sign. I wasn't prepared at the time and would think, I need to keep cash handy or I should buy some gift cards to have on hand.
I liked this idea even more because it meets needs and gives our kids opportunity to see how much we take for granted. Now each of our vehicles has a couple packs in it so we're prepared!
Talking with other moms I know I'm not alone in this internal struggle at teaching our children to value the giving as much as the getting. I know there are so many more ideas for placing our children in a position to see love played out. I would love to hear your family's traditions!