Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Giving & Getting

Once again, Christmas is upon us.  Like every kid, J is super excited.  He has a list for Santa and we will soon be writing a letter to him.  And like every kid, J wants just about everything he sees.  But, he has limited his list to four very manageable items this year.

This year J wants: a Darth Vader, a General Grievous (also a Star Wars character), an excavator and a game for his Mobigo. I have it on good authority that Santa has this one in the bag!

But, with receiving gifts should come giving.  Too often the focus is on what we get and we forget how fortunate we are to get anything at all. As adults, we know there is nothing better than seeing someone open a gift that you have given them and seeing their face light up with excitement. For kids, that is a harder concept to grasp.  And one that has to be taught.  Yes, it is fun to get gifts, but having a giving spirit is important too.  I personally believe that this is an idea that is taught and that too many kids are taught to be greedy, selfish and entitled now days (imagine me talking in my best old curmudgeon voice here).

With that in mind, we have been trying several ways to get J into the giving spirit.  One thing we do annually is Toys for Tots.  Each year we donate a few toys for kids who otherwise might not get any Christmas Gifts.  This year was the toughest so far for J.  He REALLY liked a couple of the toys we were planning to donate.  At first, I thought we were going to have a meltdown of epic proportions over donating the toys, but J pulled it together, put on a brave face and was okay with leaving the donation in the bin. 

Each year I allow J to be in charge of filling his dad's Christmas stocking.  He gets to choose the items for the stocking and we make a card for his dad.  Then on Christmas Eve, we sneak the stuff into the stocking to be ready for Christmas morning.  Last year, J had a blast picking things out. So much so that we overflowed the stocking.  He was so excited that I couldn't tell him to stop!

Also, at J's school they have an annual gift exchange.  Each year I have taken J to the store and let him choose the toy he wants to get for his friend.  I am sure some of the other parents have thought "why did they choose THAT toy for my child?" The answer is simple: by letting J choose, he has to think about the other child, consider their likes and dislikes and choose a gift that HE thinks will make them happy. I think that is important for him.  I could pick it myself, but this way, he is involved and gets to really consider giving a gift.  He is also in charge of wrapping it himself.

But, the most fun project we have done is a new one this year.  J has a love for cutting, pasting, coloring and creating "projects".  This year, I directed that into Christmas Card making.  We took wrapping paper scraps, stickers, ribbon and bows and glued them to construction paper.  I helped, but J did most of the work and he signed each card with various greetings: Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas or Peace, Joy, Noel etc.  He made about 20 cards total.  I then brought the cards to work and contacted family members.  We wanted to sell each card for $1.  The money collected would be sent to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.  The response was overwhelming! People were asking for 5 cards or more each!  The donation hasn't been sent yet, but currently he has made over $50 to send in.  If you ask him, he will tell you that the money if for "sick people".  And he has proudly stuck each donation in the money envelope that I have kept for him.  I hope to do something of this variety annually so that in the season of "getting", J will keep in mind that giving is important too.

Over the next few weeks, I have big plans for projects: cinnamon tree ornaments, salt dough ornaments and decorative cookies.  Some will be attached to gifts, some will go with J to share at school and others will be shared at work.  Hopefully we are laying the foundation for J to grow into a generous young man.

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