The Holidays Are Over...But The Giving Shouldn't Be
In the wake of the holiday season, you may find yourselves surrounded by piles of presents, toys, mounds of unwanted Christmas ties and fruit cakes and a very full garbage. Each year coming up to the holiday season I feel a bit like Cindy Lou Who, questioning the meaning and the reason behind all the pomp and circumstance.
As a parent, I want to teach my children to respect what they have and what we are able to afford. Our family Christmas is marked by one nice gift and a few more practical items: new pajamas, a sweatshirt with their basketball team logo or a much needed pair of shoes. One year the big present was a Wii for the whole family, our only gaming device then and still. This year the kids were given two Kindles to share between the four of them. It's the first handheld device for any of them, and they've been enjoying listening to Pandora, playing with the free App of the Day and, especially for my 11-year-old, reading books by the dozen.
It's not that I don't want to shower my children with gifts, but I do have a sensibility that tells me I don't like clutter, and things that do not get used are simply not worth having around. Plus, the fewer distractions my children have, the more time they spend interacting with me in the kitchen, riding their bikes and swinging in the backyard and using their imaginations to create elaborate stories in the basement. I'm okay with that.
Still, though, there are so many people who have less than us. Perhaps it is because I once had to choose between rent payments and food myself as a single mom, but I know what it's like to not have the basics taken care of. I want my children to grow up with a heart of giving, one who is able to turn around and share what they have with their neighbor who does not.
This year as a family we discovered World Vision's Gift Catalog. We discussed what would be a good gift for a family who did not have the things we did, and the kids immediately began talking about whether a goat for one family or chickens for many would be our gift. We watched the videos, we looked at the pictures and we gave a little bit of something to someone else.
If you're sitting there surrounded by gifts and left overs from holiday celebrations, remember that it's never too late to give, and a small amount is always welcome. With gifts starting at $25, it's easy to find something that will continue to provide for a family, from well shares to chickens to a whole goat. If World Vision isn't for you, there are always to help in your own community in 2012, donating winter clothes and jackets, donating food to shelters and more.