As we are quickly barreling toward Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m feeling the need to put an emphasis in our home on loving and serving others rather than, “What am I getting for Christmas?” I don’t ever want my children to think life is all about them. It’s so easy to get lost in our land of plenty (myself included). If we take just a moment, stop and look, there are so many needs all around us and, therefore, plenty of opportunities to teach our children to have an eye for those in need.
Being a mom of two little boys, I know it’s hard to find serving opportunities in which my children can actually help. What could my boys do in a soup kitchen other than be underfoot and an all-around hazard to others who are serving there? They can’t help the elderly by cleaning or painting, but there are so many small opportunities for our family to serve anyone and everyone in our community by small acts of kindness. I’ve been trying to think of the people that are over-looked in our day to day. People like clerks, post office workers, shopping cart-collectors, doctor’s office receptionists, drive-through workers, the worn down mom you pass in the grocery store. Some of these faces we see daily or weekly, some of them are more behind-the-scenes. And just because they don’t appear to be in poverty doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting in other ways. A quote I really love on this topic: “Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”
How true. And how true it is that even the smallest act of kindness can let someone know that they are seen and they are appreciated. Sometimes that’s really all it takes to keep people going. So rather than my children asking only, “What can I get for Christmas?” I want to instill the anticipation of, “What can we do for other people this Christmas?” Below is a downloadable idea list for you! Print it out, put it on the fridge and get your kids into it! Before you leave the house for the grocery store tell them to be on the look-out for someone that we can help. And if all else fails, tuck some candy canes in your purse for your little ones to give to the clerk and the person behind you in the checkout line. 🙂
If you’re looking to build a few traditions around Christmas for your family, I can recommend The Giving Manger! Our family is doing it this year for the first time and it’s definitely helping my 3 year old be excited about helping others. Click the link to check it out!
Please share in the comments below if you have any other ideas of simple ways that children and families can serve! Also, if you and your kids take part in this idea of being kinder than necessary, please share your experience! I’d so love to hear from you about what you did, how that person reacted and any great conversations you had with your kids around this.
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Love this!! Teaching our kids to love and serve others has been weighing on my mind lately, too! Our son is finally old enough this year that I feel like he will finally begin to understand. I think Finn will go with Daddy to deliver a Thanksgiving meal to a needy family this year (organized through our church), and I’ll check out your ideas for more to do!
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Oh, I love that, Susan! Thank you so much for sharing! There’s nothing like looking in the eyes of the people you’re blessing. I asked Trevor if he had any ideas of how we can help other people, his response was, “We could give them OUR food,” so I plan to have him help me pick out food straight from our pantry and deliver it to a food bank or something of the sort. Hoping it will help him make the connection of giving up something that belongs to us for the good of someone else. 🙂