Nearly everyone who has been to a Christmas church service that collects an offering or a toy drive that only accepts new toys, has had the feeling of “what do I have to give?”

In this season of ringing bells and charity drives, we often forget about our most valuable commodities: time and compassion.

The other day my seven year-old and I were out shopping. A well-dressed, elderly man with a walker was looking at turkeys, just as we were. I smiled and commented on how these turkeys were on sale. He then started a brief conversation with my daughter and me.

I pulled my turkey out of the freezer and  there was a jolt in my brain. Here is a perfect opportunity to show my daughter how to offer kindness to complete strangers. I looked toward her and said “Let’s help him.” I offered to help him lift his turkey out of the very low freezer. The smile on his face was priceless. He then asked for two more turkeys.

We loaded the three turkeys precariously on the seat of his walker. He offered me a hug which I gladly accepted and said words I will never forget, “Over the years I’ve donated $25,000 to charities, but I’ve not once had someone help me. Thank you.” Just proof that money isn’t the only thing we have to give and sometimes isn’t even what the person needs.

Showing compassion and lending a hand doesn’t have to be planned. Giving out a complement or taking a tray of cookies to one of your neighbors on a Tuesday evening is an excellent way to model the gift of giving for your children. Of course, planned giving is often more organized and on a larger scale, so that is important too. Whichever type of giving you do this year, remember to always let it come from a place of love and compassion, not just your bank account. 

Sheri Little

Sheri Little is a parent educator, blogger, and mother of three. She currently works in the field of child abuse prevention as a home visitor and parent coach. You will find that nurturance, compassion and empathy are the keys to her parenting toolbox.