At Christmas we celebrate God’s greatest gift to the world–Himself– and there is just something about preparing our hearts to receive the Christ Child at Christmas that inspires all of us to be more generous and mindful of others in need. I want my children to be inspired as well. I want them to thank God for all they have, and to think about the very real poverty of other children in this world.
Thankfully, opportunities to teach this lesson abound. They hear the bells of the salvation army outside of the food store, and they see the tags on the giving tree in our church. They ask questions and in response I hear my sometimes selfish children ask how they can help . They drop coins into the St. Vincent DePaul poor box, they rummage through our pantry for canned goods, and as they smell their own dinners I again remind them to pray for those without.
While these are all wonderful ways to teach the virtue of generousity and giving to my children, last year we made the choice to forgo additional errands (like purchasing a toy for a needy child), in lieu of ordering a giving catalog and making a donation. I’m sure there are many such organizations out there, but both Food for the Poor and Samaritan’s Purse are two wonderful organizations with beautiful picture giving catalogs. They both serve families and children in very poverty stricken areas overseas.
The catalogs come in the mail in November (or you can go online) and the children LOVE to flip through the pages and pick out what they are buying to help other children in need. One moment they are fighting over legos in our playroom, and the next they are looking with wide eyes at pictures of families in need of homes and children in need of food. After turning only a few pages, it seems they give without even thinking, emptying their piggy banks and bringing tears to my eyes as they explain why they picked “feeding a hungry baby for a week” or a “fruit tree.” I began this tradition to teach them about generousity, but instead, they they are teaching me.
And so today I am thanking Jesus for this beautiful season of giving. I am thanking Him for my vocation, for the privilege of raising beautiful children who can teach their mama so many things. And I am praying that their hearts don’t become hardened by this world. I pray they remain generous, and that my own heart always remains open to those in need.
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”