I came across a really great idea for your children over the holidays. If you don’t have children, pass this along to someone who does. It is important to teach not only the joy and magic of receiving Christmas, but the absolute beauty of giving this time of year.
In Georgia today it is “Georgia Gives Day,” and I, along with what I hope will be many more people found a charity to give to today. This isn’t that big of a deal, in fact it is something that I try to do monthly. I am not rich, will never be rich, but I find a certain satisfaction with the knowledge that maybe, just maybe, one child or one veteran would find a little bit of joy in my simple gift.
Like everyone I have heard the horror stories of charities. I have heard of the organizations that use the money only for themselves, I have heard of the organizations that take advantage of the disadvantage to make their own needs met. I have heard of the thieves, the jokers, the scammers, the negligent and the cruel. But I believe deep in my heart, that somewhere out there someone has benefited from my pitiful donation. I can’t donate thousands, only small dollars but if it brings a smile to one child, it is enough.
The problem is teaching my children this lesson. How do you teach a child to give when oftentimes it isn’t a moment of instant visual gratification? Much of what we give we never see being received, and without that visual stimulation, understanding the importance and the significance is difficult for small children. All they see is their clothes and toys going out the door. All they can comprehend is they are losing, it is difficult to see the gain. Not because they are mean, but because children are naturally selfish. They are supposed to be; it is how they survive in this world until they can learn the tools that will aid them.
So I was talking about my donation today, in the hopes of encouraging the others I am surrounded with to do the same, when one of them mentioned his three-year old child. Since one of my children is roughly the same age, I often listen to this parent waiting for ideas or different ways to approach difficult situations. I like to see how others conquer the same battles that I fight, it gives me ideas and even a sense that my children are not that different from others. There is comfort, not in conformity, but in normalcy.
The parent spoke about trying to teach his son about the meaning of Christmas, that it isn’t all about receiving, but that sometimes it should also be able giving. Because his son is three it is difficult to make him understand about giving gifts to children he doesn’t see; the giving doesn’t impact him. So instead, his parents encourage to find one “old” toy, wrap it up, put it under the tree for Santa to pick up and deliver to another child. I thought this was brilliant.
Santa represents so much to children: love, magic, and faith. He represents an ideal, a beautiful gift that is more important than the presents in his sleigh; he represents the idea that there are those in this world that love you, that believe in you, that will reward you for all the good and wonderful that you are. And it doesn’t matter if you are a certain color, have a certain disease, or are in any way different from every other child out there. He sees you, he is waiting for you to be good, and he will bring you tangible proof that you did good. It is a romantic and undeniable magic; and it has nothing to do with the parents that have to love you.
This time of year is difficult, with the shopping, the wrapping, the visiting, the baking, the decorating, the tempers, the demands, the complete meltdowns. And I freely admit that it is so much easier to go online and donate money than try to find time to teach my children a lesson. But it is an essential lesson, a necessary lesson. And if I don’t teach them that magic is so encompassing, who will?