It’s early morning. The twinkling lights beckon her to sneak down the stairs to take a peak.
“Sshhh…quiet…don’t want Dad and Mom to hear.”
She just needs to see the packages, find the ones that are hers.
Her stocking is lumpy. Anticipation builds.
Look at all those packages! The tree looks like it’s sitting on top of the packages. She creeps up to just peek. Rats! Mom did it again this year. No names! How’s she supposed to know what’s hers?
After our second child was born, we quickly saw the “gimme” attitude at Christmastime. As is typical, our kids wanted to check all the packages under the tree to find out which were theirs. How many did they have? Were theirs the biggest? You know the drill.
We all struggle with “gimme”.
However, after one Christmas of this attitude, we knew we needed to change the focus from “gimme” to “give you.”
How do you teach your children, and remind yourself, that it IS more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)?
We came up with three simple ways to focus on giving, or “give you”, rather than “gimme”:
1. Take on an anonymous family project. As a family we would choose to participate in at least one of the following:
- Project Angel Tree
- Operation Christmas Child
- Food drives
- Clothing donations
- Toy donations
- Meals to a family in need
As our children grew older, they chose together the project or projects. Then, we’d work together to gather and provide the gifts. Our goal was to choose projects that impacted children their own age, someone to whom they could relate.
These were done anonymously. The hidden value? No recognition means you are truly giving for the joy of blessing another.
2. Christmas presents are for giving not getting. Each year we read the story of Jesus’ birth and talk about why we celebrate Christmas. That Christmas, we decided to change up our present opening routine. We asked one child to go get a gift under the tree that didn’t have their name it. They could pick any gift they wanted, bring to that person, and wish him or her a “Merry Christmas.” At first this felt weird to all of us. However, it didn’t take too many years before we all looked forward to our Christmas gift exchange.
We knew our kids’ focus had changed from “gimme” to “give you” when our kids couldn’t wait to give a gift from under the tree. Sometimes it was something special they had for someone else. Sometimes it was a particularly intriguing gift they’d been eyeing under the tree. Even though it wasn’t for them, they couldn’t wait to see what was inside. Score! A valuable lesson learned.
3. Birthday Cake on Christmas Day. Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Why not have cake? Every year we have an ice cream cake – peppermint ice cream surrounded by Oreo cookie crust and crumbles. After dinner, we sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.
Hidden value: Our children know Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. We give gifts to each other in honor of the greatest gift He gave us – salvation.
For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Three simple choices. Extraordinary change in our attitudes.
How do you focus on the “give you”? Share your ideas in the comments below.
The girls have had for the last few years a “Holiday Shop” at school. At first we thought it kind of a PTO gimmick but we decided to give each of them $5. The only stipulation is that they had to use the money to get something for someone else. If there was money left over they had to return the change to us – no shopping for themselves as this was a time to give. It is fun to see A) the anticipation now to buy something for whomever they chose and B) the excitement as they look upon the gift they wrapped counting the days when they get to give it.
What a great way to teach giving to your kiddos! Thanks for sharing.