Every year at Christmas two prominent questions circulate through families: “What do you want?” and “What did you get?” If we aren’t intentional, the idea of giving takes a back seat to our own wish lists of toys and treasures.
After the celebrations are over, how often do we ask this question, “What did you give for Christmas?” And, how do we teach our children about the joy of giving when we bombard them with questions about what they want? Don’t misunderstand me. I love the excitement of surprising my children with things under the tree and watching their faces light up when I open a gift they’ve specially chosen for me. But, how do we, who have been blessed with so much, extend beyond our four walls and demonstrate to those who have nothing that we care? Jesus, the most costly gift ever given, came for all humanity, including the poor and downtrodden. If we do nothing to reach out, what example are we setting for our families? Will that not perpetuate self-centeredness?
Most years we purchase gifts for children through the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. Every year, with a deadline looming, I frantically shop for gifts with minutes to spare and lug them to the drop off site. The announcement at dinner, “Hey, I bought gifts today from our family for a little girl who wouldn’t have any presents under the tree,” falls flat evidenced by their impassionate, uninvolved nods.
Like the contests that require one to be present to win, so children must participate to learn the inestimable value of giving. So this year for the first time, my daughter, Maddie and I trudged through stores searching for just the right things for two girls. How much better to have my daughter with me to save these girls from some serious fashion faux pas had I been shopping solo!
After delivering the bags of gifts, the field trip experience began to impact Maddie’s mind. She asked, “So, you mean, this is all these girls are going to receive for Christmas?”
“And, they won’t know we gave it to them?”
“Wow! That’s really cool, Mom. They can’t even repay us or say thank you.”
“No, it’s just like what Jesus did for us when he came as a baby. He gave with no strings, and we can never repay him.”
After a bit of silence, my 12-year-old wistfully whispered, “I sure wish I could see their faces when they open those gifts.”
“Me too, Maddie. Me too.”
I know the One who gave us Himself sees those young girls open the small gifts we gave in His name. And now, my daughter sees as well—that we can impact the world around us—one gift of love at a time.
What will you give this Christmas?photo credit: amandacphoto via photopin cc