“Jingle Bell Rock” plays on the radio. Snow gently falls outside the windows. Lights sparkle on the Christmas tree. And my incessant pleas echo throughout the house . . .
“Please take care of your toys! Do you know there are kids that would love to have just a few toys? And you guys have SO many!”
“We don’t throw away food around here. There are others that go hungry every day because they don’t have enough food to eat. Do you realize how lucky you are to have food anytime you want?”
“Please don’t let the water just run down the drain! There are people all over the world who don’t have clean water. Let’s not waste it!”
I rant. I rave. I nag. Because I am keenly aware that my kids are beyond blessed. And it drives me crazy because they don’t realize how good they have it. They just don’t get it! I know they are only six and three and I am probably expecting them to understand things beyond their grasp . . . but when they whine about being bored while tripping over oodles of things to play with, I seriously want to tear my hair out.
Growing up, my family wasn’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of extra, either. Each Christmas, I anxiously waited for the JCPenney toy catalog to arrive in the mail so I could circle all the things I was hoping for. Deep down, I knew that most of those coveted items were far more expensive than the presents I would actually be unwrapping on Christmas. But my parents did the best they could with what they had, and the gifts we did receive were treasured.
As a parent, I now find myself in a position to provide more for my boys than I had growing up, but not wanting to overdo it. I’m trying to figure out the delicate balance. I want them to know about hard work and sacrifice. To not feel entitled, but rather be appreciative of all the ways in which they live a blessed life. I want them to grow up to be givers, to be good stewards of their resources, and to recognize and help those in less fortunate circumstances.
As we move through this holiday season, I will be trying my best to teach their young hearts about giving, amidst all of the receiving. Maybe it will be sorting through and donating some of their toys to a local charity. Or baking cookies for our neighbors. Or helping shop for a family that can’t afford gifts. Although they might not truly “get it” until they are much older, I hope the seeds I’m planting now will someday grow into an understanding that the best gift of all is the one that you give to someone else.