A month or so ago, the grandparents began asking for birthday and Christmas gift lists from the boys. When I asked them about what they wanted, they named a video game or two but they all had trouble coming up with anything they really, really wanted. I suggested that maybe this year instead of receiving Christmas gifts from all the extended family this year, they might ask instead that their family give gifts to a charity they choose.
I was surprised that the boys all quickly agreed this was a good idea when I first mentioned it. This may be because all three of them have winter birthdays and would receive gifts then as well as knowing that Santa Claus would still be filling their stockings and under the tree like he does each year. But I also think they are realizing how much we really have (and how little our home is to store it all).
And so they jumped on board with the idea. They especially enjoyed choosing their own charity to support. Each spent time considering their options and their choices are definitely indicative of what they love and value.
Today the boys sent this email to the family.
Subject Line: Giving Instead of Receiving.
When we started to consider Christmas wish lists, we realized we have lots of toys, books and games and we don't really need any new things. We know we are blessed and there are kids in the world that don't have as much as we do. We would like to raise money for a charity instead this year. Each of us has chosen a charity project that means a lot to us.
Hockey Boy is collecting money to buy books for kids who do not have the amazing library he has through Ethiopia Reads. (Link)
Middle Man wants to buy chicks through World Vision to give to families. (Link)
Little One wants to give soccer balls to kids who use grass and mud balls to play soccer that he saw in the World Vision Gift Catalog. Link)
If you would like to give us a Christmas gift this year, we ask that you support these charities instead. Santa Claus will still be visiting us so don't worry about us going without fun toys on Christmas morning. You can make checks out to World Vision and Ethiopia Reads or to each of us individually and we will send them on as a group. You can also donate directly online if that is easier but please let us know because we want to keep track of how much we are able to raise.
Hockey Boy, Middle Man, and Little One
I would not say that my boys are especially compassionate or empathetic. They are not the kids that get upset about the homeless person on the corner or worry about the starving kids in Africa. But when a specific need is presented to them, they want to help. Maybe that is the lesson here for those of us with kids that don't take the initiative. We need to give them the opportunity to help.
And don't worry about my kids being all sad on Christmas morning. I am sure that Santa Claus will be pretty happy with their generosity and will be putting them on the nice list, the extra nice list.
How do you help your kids love the world?