As we enter into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I think we are all hoping to find the peace and relief that the season of thanksgiving, joy, and giving can bring us. We are hoping for that peace that will come into our homes as we give. I see my kids fluctuating between excitement and anticipation and sorrowful wanting. I’m hoping to take their focus off the toy catalogs and put it on being thankful and giving to others. Today I’m sharing a few things that we do in our home, because at the end of the season, I hope I’m raising givers.
Focus on Christ
Friends, this is never the wrong answer. Jesus Christ is at the center of it all. He is our hope. Our salvation. Our song. Our greatest example. As I sat pondering on his humble birth this morning, I thought of the wise men, setting expensive gifts before a poor family. Our gifts will not be ill-placed when giving to those who are struggling.
So at this season (and all the time, I hope) we talk of Christ in our homes. We teach our children that He is the reason for all that is good. And we exemplify how to give like him.
To catch the real meaning of the Spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.
This is the spirit which marked that first Christmas day—a day foretold by the prophets of old. . . .
Since that time, the spirit of giving gifts has been present in the mind of each Christian as he commemorates the Christmas season.Thomas S. Monson, The Spirit of Christmas, December 1992
One way we focus on Christ is by watching a nativity video. We have already watched The Christ Child this year. I loved the authenticity and the focus on the wise men’s journey.
Read Giving Books
Giving can be so abstract in our culture. Charities ask for money or donations which they then distribute. Kids are often not allowed to participate in the giving experience, which is not a good way to motivate them (or even me). Because I still want us to be generous, I’ve found some books that help kids see the good that their donations do.
My favorite book for raising givers is Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming. In this book a Dutch girl gets a package from an American girl through the Children’s Aid Society after WWII. They keep up a correspondence, and we see how small gifts, of food, coats, and friendship from America, support an entire Dutch town through the long, hard winter.
We also love reading Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson. Mary picks blueberries to share with a neighbor. Then the story follows a series of kind deeds from neighbor to neighbor, multiplying the goodness by five each time. We get to see how the goodness spreads and spreads and finds it way back to Mary.
Last year I decided that even though we didn’t know anyone who was in deep need, we could still show the kids how to give generously. We chose two people who were not on our typical gift list, people who we felt had been generous with their time and their love. I let the kids pick someone and I picked someone. We picked out special gifts for them. The kids loved it and our receivers loved it. I hope I’m raising givers who are generous.
We also took gifts to the hospital for nurses on Christmas Eve, and it was truly the highlight of my holiday. The nurses were so sweet, and so grateful that someone who wasn’t in the hospital was thinking of them on Christmas. That obviously won’t be an option in 2020. But I’m sure there are other ways we can all show our gratitude to the many who have sacrificed so much this year.
What to do in 2020
No doubt this year, there are more people in need than there have been in a long time. There are countless ways to give monetarily. But gathering together to run fundraisers or gather donations won’t be possible in most places this year.
Chances are much higher that you personally know someone who is in need this year–a fantastic opportunity to give meaningfully. Chances are also higher that you are in need this year–a chance to be grateful and give from the heart. Our family has spent many years on a college student budget, scraping at the bottom of the checking account, and I’ve decided intention is more important than cost.
Creativity seems to be at an all time high. We can all think of something to do. Among all the hustle and bustle and desires to do good, let’s not forget that It’s the Little Things that Matter Most to Kids. Raising givers doesn’t have to be complicated.