I love Christmas. Always have. Always will.
When I was a kid (and still a little bit even today) I get all excited when it’s time to open presents. Many families have all kinds of traditions and customs — but my family would open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve so we would have more time to play with our goodies. (This is of course after the “Santa years” when we would open some presents on Christmas Eve then see what Santa got us on Christmas morning).
I loved Christmas when I was a kid because of the stuff that I RECEIVED.
I love Christmas today because of the stuff that I GIVE AWAY. Not just to my sweet daughters and my son, but to people we don’t even know.
And the joy that surrounds my Christmas experience today is many times greater than when I was a kid.
I was able to make the transition from finding joy in getting to giving because my parents instilled those values in me. I was lucky to have parents that did that.
I don’t think it’s too “out in left field” to say that many adults today were never able to make that transition. You can see it all over our culture. (Kind of like saying that obesity rates have increased in the last 50 years — you don’t need a lot of scientific data backing it up…you can just look around).
Our culture is saturated with a whole lot more “me’s” than “you’s”. It’s all about “what’s in it for me” and “how is my action going to benefit ME” instead of looking at how our actions and behaviors will benefit those around us.
If you have small kids, make sure to highlight the giving aspect of this season and not focus solely on the getting.
After all, gift giving at Christmas time is based on the gifts the magi brought to the baby Jesus. They were deeply symbolic and thoughtful gifts. They didn’t bring Jesus a wooden horse toy. Ha!
Now, I’m not against getting toys for your kids. I have Anna and Elsa stuff literally coming out of my ears. Literally. There is an Anna dress attached to my ear as I’m writing this. And I think one of my daughters just slipped some Elsa slippers on my feet. Someone please send help. Save me.
So whether you’re Christian or Jewish or atheist or whatever…the spirit of gift-GIVING was thoughtfulness and meaning. Not just the sheer volume of toys that a kid can accumulate over a lifetime.
What are some things you can do with your kids to focus on giving this holiday season?:
- Let them pick out gifts for friends and family members.
- Let them help wrap gifts for other people.
- Tell them stories and show them pictures of children who don’t have everything they ever wanted whenever they want it.
- Better yet — take them to those children. Show them. Volunteer somewhere that will give your kids some perspective on the real world.
- Go buy a bunch of toys and drop them off at a Toys for Tots drop-off (or something similar).
- Give money to the Salvation Army bell ringers.
- Try and talk them into giving away a toy that they own that maybe they haven’t played with in a long time that someone else may get joy from.
- Find an organization that connects “givers” with families in need and buy everything on that family’s wish list.
- Spend more money on other people than you do your own family and let your kids in on that (if they’re old enough).
Show your kids the joy of giving. Show them that helping other people is one of their purposes on earth. Show them. Don’t tell them. Just like telling them to eat broccoli won’t work…YOU have to eat it.
Let’s raise a generation that understands that it’s not about ME. It’s about YOU.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, gets everything he or she ever wanted, and gives a whole lot more.