12.21.2009

Giving vs Getting

We have tried different things to teach our kids about giving at Christmas. Honestly, it's been something I struggle with. Our kids are pks (pastor's kids) and sometimes they give just by the nature of what we do. Several holidays are busy times for us at church and the kids are there with us or with babysitters. There are times when Brad is needed and isn't able to be at home. My kids are amazing and rarely complain. They actually love being at the church and I think they feel a sense of ownership, like it's their church. And it is.

All that to say, when Christmas comes around I have decisions to make. I know they are giving because their parents are busy. Brad and I come home tired (and wake up tired) sometimes. Even if they can't express it, they feel the season we're in. I see more bickering and tears. Because of this, I want to just spoil them. I want the times when we're together to be focused on them and on us, as a family.

On the other hand, I know I need to be more deliberate. We have taken goodies to our "community helpers" on Christmas. We have taken food anonymously to a family in need.

This year, I feel like I've been playing catch-up. I think because of our sabbatical and being gone for so long, the holidays snuck up on me. We went straight into rehearsals (for Christmas Eve services) and Christmas parties. I haven't taken the time to talk to the kids about giving, much less arrange a way to do something special.

Yesterday morning at church, I was sitting with Paige. She asked me how many days are left until Christmas. When I told her, her eyes lit up with excitement. She got so giddy. I was happy that she's excited, but a part of me wondered what she's excited for. I was feeling the mommy guilt. I don't want them to be so excited for presents. I want Christmas to mean much more. But, I didn't press the issue. I let her have her moment of excitement while I processed my mothering skills.

We came home from church and ate lunch. As I was in the kitchen cleaning up, Emma came in and asked if she could have some wrapping paper. I asked why (as i explained that we don't waste wrapping paper. i was sure she had some crazy craft planned and i was not about to let her use my good wrapping paper for that...blah, blah). She said "I need to wrap my presents". I went and got some paper and followed her into her room. All three of the older kids had collected "presents" that they wanted to wrap and give their younger siblings. They all found toys of their own that they wanted to give.

I was impressed! I love that they took it upon themselves to give to their younger siblings. We spent about an hour wrapping and talking about how happy the little ones would be.

Last night, we went through all the toys in the house. We always clean out before Christmas in order to make room for new toys. I asked Emma if we could give away her "Ponyville Station" playset. She said "Yes, Mom, let's give it away. I would love for a little girl to have it. I think she will like it." My heart melted.

I've done a better job in the past of teaching giving. This is not my golden year. But I think they catch onto our attitudes and they know that we love people and we give when we can. I can't wait for Christmas Eve when they give their gifts to their siblings. I pray that they will feel the joy that only comes from giving!

How do you teach your kids about giving?

2 comments:

  1. We have large families and the ministry is demanding. It's important that our families learn how to minister and love on one another too. You're doing a very good job at that!

    When my kids were all very little, I gave them $10 a piece -- after they made their "lists" of who to give too -- I took them to the Dollar Tree. I told them they had to save $1 for tax and $1 for wrapping paper. They took over the store running around picking out their gifts for the people on their lists. People were blessed just listening to them. Most NEVER have their kids giving ANYTHING at Christmas time.

    I remember suggested to Elizabeth that she purchase her Grandmother a Christmas Dishtowel Set. She looked at my suggestion and exclaimed, "I never want to be a grownup!" I said, "Honey, why?" She said, "Because apparently, you all get excited about getting DISH TOWELS for Christmas!" :)

    Our older kids have become good at thinking of others...at least those who reside outside our home. This year, I felt again that they need to focus on encouraging and refreshing their own family members....so we are doing a "secret santa"....you draw a name...and do little surprises for that person during Dec -- then we're gonna exchange a $10 gift. I drew Elizabeth's name. :)

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  2. Maybe I'm not as deliberate about it as I should be. We seize the moments when they come. This year Nate has taken each of the kids out and helped them buy little things for their siblings. This has made them so excited about GIVING those things on Christmas morning! And, I let them be excited about getting, too. Because they're kids. I wanted to go caroling together this year at a nursing home or something similar, but just didn't pull it together in time. And, really, as our kids watch us pour out, it becomes ingrained in them, too. Your kids have pretty good examples of that, I do think. =^)

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I'd love to know what you think!