This is a time of year that children (and adults) can very, very easily get wrapped up in the season and have an attitude of "gimme gimme gimme" "What wonderful things am I going to get?" "I want this and this and this and this and this and this!"
Even though we are living in a time where things are financially tight for many many people, for some reason we feel the need to give our children pretty much anything and everything they ask for (just take a look at people's carts at your local Wal-Mart and Target). Hubby and I are no exception...we want to give our kids what they are dreaming about and something that they will love...they are at an age where their "dreams" are not that expensive so it's easier to get caught up in giving them so much. It's not because we want to spoil them, it's because we love them and want them to have the kind of Christmas they will remember and look back on with fondness and wonderful memories, and I suspect many other parents feel the same way. This year we have forced ourselves to cut things back...they are getting some things they really want, but we are not going overboard like we did last year.
So, in the midst of the flurry of giving, glitz, glitter, and the spirit of the season, how do you teach your children the value and joy of giving?
Well, at our house, we have been talking a lot about being a light to others and showing God's love. We especially focus on it at bedtime prayers. Vienna and I talk about how we can be a light and things we can do or give to others to show and be an example of God's love. Randall and I feel that giving isn't just about the physical act of giving something to someone, but also things you can do for others...that giving of yourself can mean so much. Of course, we also make sure the kids are "in" on any gift giving, we wrap a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, and we talk about how fun it is to give to others. Our kiddos are still really young, but it's fun to see their understanding coming about. Vienna did something for Porter yesterday and when I thanked her for doing something so meaningful and nice, she asked if she was being a "light". Yes! She's getting it :)
Here are the responses from our readers on this question:
We always emphasize that it's not about us, as we are very blessed. We may not have everything we want, but we have what we need. We try to stress that all year long, not just Christmas. We pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and they have so much fun picking stuff out to go into them. As they get older, they have really taken notice of the Salvation Army bell ringers and always want to put something in the kettle. So we are going to ring bells with the older ones this year too. I think it's important to answer their questions honestly and have an open dialogue about why we need to give and help them to realize how blessed they are. The last couple of years we also stopped doing big presents under the tree and just do stockings. If something doesn't quite fit in the stocking we make a treasure hunt out of it with clues in their stocking and they have to find it in the house :)
We sponsor a local family
We do it all year long
I was raised that we give up one gift at Christmas to buy one for the angel tree. We picked out what we wanted and donated it. I hope to do that with my children.