Sharing has always been a core value in our home. We taught our girls about sharing through their save, spend and share goals because we wanted to make sharing effortless yet intentional. I know many families share their good fortune, but too many of them do it without involving their children. You certainly don’t need to make your sharing public in an attempt to win accolades — that’s not the point of giving. However, as appropriate, you should make sure your kids are part of your family’s giving to help understand why it is important to you and to accept it as one of their core value’s too. It’s always been my experience the best way to teach kids is to give them firsthand experience and that includes how good it feels to give or share.
Many people comment on how the real meaning of Christmas has become lost among all the consumerism. While kids throughout the years have always eagerly anticipated Santa Claus visiting their home, these days they are bombarded with images of things they must-have. It can make them lose sight of Christmas, which is why we, as their parents, have to make sure our kids understand why we celebrate Christmas.
The magic of Santa Claus lasts for a few years and we’ve truly enjoyed the girls’ delight on Christmas morning, but we’ve also made sure the girls knew the true meaning of Christmas. Another way we have helped shift focus from receiving gifts and the “I wants” is to emphasize sharing. While we share and give back year-round, our Christmas charitable giving is another way we celebrate the season and the birth of Jesus.
Here are some simple ways your family can make a difference this Holiday season.
Kids are used to seeing the Salvation Army red kettles and people ringing bells at stores. Talk to them about how that money is used to help others and encourage them to set aside some of their money to donate. If possible, you may want to take a shift yourself and have your child help you collect donations.
We do this every Christmas and the girls love it. Beyond purchased items, I also ask the girls to donate items from their closet and toy chest (I select a family with girls the same age). The girls deliver the gifts with me and they are almost happier showing the kids their gifts than they are unwrapping their own. There are countless organizations that can help you adopt a family but also consider going to your place of worship and school as another option to find a family in need.
Do you have any neighbors, family members or friends who can’t get around well? Bake some holiday treats for them and invite your children to help you deliver the goodies. Spend the afternoon or evening with them playing cards or games or just simply visiting with one another. Also see if they need help with anything that your kids can do for them.
Not every child will receive a Christmas present this year, which is heartbreaking. My girls have so much, while I don’t want them to feel guilty about it, I do want them to recognize and share their good fortune with those less fortunate. Whether it’s family money, their own money or both, purchase some toys together to donate.
Our soldiers do so much to keep us safe, which typically means extended stays away from their loved ones. Write them a letter thanking them for their sacrifice and to let them know their service is appreciated. A Million Thanks is a great organization to send your letter to a soldier overseas or to grant the wish of an injured veteran.
One of my fondest memories is reading a bedtime story to the girls. Sadly, not every family has access to books. First Book gives children in need new books to keep and cherish. The simple act of reading a story together is such a powerful, bonding act that I want every child and parent to experience. This is one way to help make that happen.
Food Shelves often have greater demand than product and Christmas is an especially busy time for them. Call your local Food Shelf and see what items are most needed. Consider hosting or arranging a food drive at your place of worship, workplace or neighborhood to help replenish their shelves in time for the holidays.
Do some online research and see which local charities or organizations are hosting fundraisers during December. Select one that means something to your family and support it — as a participant, volunteer or donating goods and/or cash.
Get a group of your children’s friends together and take them Christmas caroling at your local nursing home. Kids love to sing and the residents will appreciate the good cheer and chance to visit with children.
Make a point to patronize stores that donate a portion of their profits to charities as another way to help those in need. It’s a win-win to help people less fortunate while supporting businesses that helping your local community and beyond.
These are just a few easy ways to incorporate sharing into your Christmas. They don’t take much effort but they can make a world of difference to the recipient. Plus, it teaches your kids that Christmas is more than just receiving the latest and greatest toy, but also about sharing blessings with others and how good that can feel.
How do you give back at Christmas or any time of the year?