Friday, December 16, 2011

A Giving Spirit

Christmas is a time for sharing.   It's a time for giving.   It's a time for spreading the good news.    But it is often a time for greed.  Frustration.  And consumerism.    Yes, I said it.     Christmas gives (most) people a wonderful feeling - it really is a time to be merry!   We don't just say "Merry Christmas" to piss off the politically correct "Happy Holiday" folk (gasp, did she really just say 'piss off' in a Christmas post? Yes I did. )   It really is because people (in general) are more giving, loving, kind during this holiday season.   But it really is a double edge sword and a fine line to walk... ok enough with the cliche statements what am I getting at??   Giving! I don't want Christmas to become about greed and consumerism.   I want our focus to be on Jesus and giving.  

God gave the ultimate gift to all mankind when he gave us Jesus.   The reason we (all should) celebrate Christmas.    The wise men brought gifts to baby toddler Jesus to show adoration, love, thanksgiving.   We give to each other to show that we love and care for each other.    I've talked about this before, last year.   These are grand topics that cause people to reflect on the true meaning of why they give, how much they give, are their motivations correct and in line with the real meaning of Christmas... but this year it isn't about me or my motivations for giving - this is about creating a good foundation in Ace for the season of giving.    Teaching him that it isn't about presents, it's about Jesus.   It's about helping him celebrate the season and Jesus and not getting lost in the consumerism.    Not lost in the greed of "more more more!"  Teaching him that there are others less fortunate than him that he can choose to help rather than have "more!"    It's my biggest and most rewarding challenge yet.

I set out to come up with a list of 25 various ways we can share, help, give to others.   I was going to set it up in sort of an advent style - but I'll be honest, I never got that going and off the ground and as it is now dawning on the 16th day of December, it just isn't going to happen.   Instead I've just been mentally ticking off the list of things that I have come up with to help Ace understand a more giving side of Christmas.     To be honest some of the concepts are quite abstract for a three year old.  I can only explain so much that we're giving toys to other kids that don't have any money to buy them.  He sees the toys, but he never sees the other kids - he also doesn't understand the concept of money just yet either - but I think we're on a good path for understanding in the long run (I hope.)

We started off getting a tag off of an Angel Tree.   We chose as a family a tag for a 7 year old girl whose father's hours at work had been cut and she wanted an easy bake oven.   He helped me ordered it on Amazon and was very excited to see it arrive at the house.    We talked about the little girl and the limited information we had on her situation.    We said we were helping to make her Christmas that much more special - but it wasn't for us to feel good about ourselves for doing something good - but that we should thank Jesus that we were in a position to help others.  

Another way we're teaching him giving was Toys for Tots.   I made the decision this year to not send out our Christmas card to the masses.   There are so many people that I regularly communicate with on social networking sites, that I figure why spend $30 on stamps, plus the cost to print each of the cards, when that money could be put to a better purpose.   We had already planned to donate one toy for TFT, but with the decision made to reduce our Christmas cards - we went to the store and planned to get 4 presents to put in the box.   It just seemed like a better way to spend our money this year.   I explained to Ace that these toys were for kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to have toys.   This motivated him.    We walked through the store and he was very generous - I had to scale back his generosity just a little - again since he doesn't understand the concept of money. In the end we decided on a two toys for younger kids and two toys for slightly older kids, one of them Ace exclaimed "I would really love this on December 25th if it were for me, so other kids will too!"   We checked out and then we walked over and put them in the box. That is the only thing we purchased in the store, even though I did need to get other things.   We left the store with nothing, because I felt it would make the best impact on him.   After we got to our car we said a prayer for those that would receive the toys and for others that have needs and wishes that might still not be met, and again thanking God for our ability to help others. 

In days to come we will donate some food to a food bank, some of his toys and mom and dad's clothes to charity, bring a poinsettia to a friend, and have him read his sister a story.  I want him to see that helping others doesn't have to be just giving to strangers or giving money, but also giving of his time and that doing something nice for someone else is giving as well.   So while he's excited for Christmas and excited for presents, we are hoping to help him keep his focus on what truly matters:  Jesus and that we can point to Jesus and share Jesus with others by giving, sharing and helping others.    I leave you with a story that really touched my heart, such a wonderful example of selfless giving - and while it might not have been done in the name of Jesus it is an excellent reflection of the giving spirit.

1 comment:

Lori said...

I think this is great. One thing we really love participating in is Operation Christmas Child. Garrett LOVES helping me fill the boxes--especially knowing that they are going to countries where kids literally wouldn't get a thing if not for the box he filled. We also do the cheapest Christmas around when it actually comes to what our boys get from us. I've heard parents talking about their 300+ budget for their preschoolers. We spent about 50 on each boy and they're certainly getting plenty!