One of my favorite Christmas stories (after the one in the book of Luke) is the The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs. It’s about a Christmas tree farmer who nurtures and treasures her favorite tree. She won’t sell it to anyone year after year. And then a little girl from a very poor family comes along and falls in love with the special tree, and the farmer gives it to her for free. The tree was never for sale, but it was a lovely gift that brought great joy to one little girl.
Reading this story brings tears to my eyes every single time. It’s just so perfect.
And also, I can totally relate. As a wife and mother, I take the best of myself, the special bits I’ve saved out of selfishness, and I give them to my children and my husband every day. Even though I don’t have to. Even though they may not always be grateful. I give because I can and because it brings me joy.
It is during this special time of year that giving gets thrown around a lot. Toy drives, coat drives, church donations for the poor, thrift store contributions, bell ringers. Opportunities abound.
I think it is vitally important that our children – the recipients of so much of our giving on a day to day basis – learn the value of giving in turn. They often don’t have money to drop in a kettle, but they have two willing hands and, if you get them involved, they will soon reap the rewards that are bound to follow. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Make shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Their big holiday push was in November, but they take donations all year long.
- Sponsor a child. We sponsor two children through Compassion International, and my 8-year-old loves to write letters to them and send them gifts.
- Volunteer to help distribute food at the food bank. Many food banks have special programs during the holiday season.
- Ask a senior citizen in your church how you can help him or her. There’s always something to be done.
- Make homemade bird feeders, fill them with seeds and treats and hang them outside. Talk about how God wants us to be good stewards of the earth and its creatures.
- Make care kits for the homeless. I know a family who keeps the kits in their car and hands them out whenever they identify someone in need.
- Make chemo care packages. That same family made chemo care packages that made me cry (we lost my mother to pancreatic cancer in 2013).
- Make a card to send to out-of-town family. Teach your children that they don’t only have to give to strangers.
- Bring treats to a neighbor, police officers or fire fighters.
- Bring treats to drivers at a truck stop. I know a family who does this on Christmas day. I’m sure they are a tremendous blessing to those drivers away from their families on that holiday afternoon.
- Help a neighbor with yard work.
- Contribute to or pay the bill of the car behind you in the drive thru.
- Send art to Color A Smile.
- Write thank-you notes. Encourage your children to practice gratitude and give back to those who’ve given to them.
Giving is something we really should do 365 days a year. There is no time like the Christmas season to begin a new habit!
For more ways to get your kids involved in giving, visit Feels Like Home for 60 Acts of Kindness for Kids.
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What are your family’s favorite ways to give during Christmas? We would love to hear your ideas on our blog!