The holidays are a time of joy and giving. But they are also a time of teaching. It’s easy for children to get caught up in the excitement of the holidays and the toys and goodies they get. Sometimes they lose sight of the big picture: the importance of giving, of helping those who are less fortunate, of giving thanks for what they have.
How can you help impart the real spirit of the holidays on your children?
| Don’t Wait For The Holidays
Charity isn’t just for the Christmas and Hanukkah season: It’s something to be done year-round. Teach by your own personal example. Give a young child three different jars – one for spending, one for saving and one for giving. Teach your child to put something in each jar every week when she gets her allowance, spending or birthday money. Be sure to model that behavior yourself. If the child can see you give at church, or to the needy, or mail money to a charity, that’s a powerful teaching message.
| Give Time – and Involve Your Children
When your children are old enough, take them to a food bank or a homeless shelter. Somewhere where your children can see that some are not so fortunate. It’s especially powerful if they encounter children like them who are not as blessed with material possessions and opportunities. It puts a human face on an abstract picture.
| Sponsor a Child
Some charities let you “sponsor” a specific village or child – and send you updates and notes and progress reports from the child or from the village. Yes, your money goes into a big “pot” that funds a school or irrigation project or well in a needy country. You can also help your child sponsor another child the same age on an “angel tree.” These are generally anonymous on both ends – but you can help your child form a connection with giving at the individual level.