Now, how to I teach my girls, 4 and 5, to have the same kind of spirit--the whole "it's better to give than to receive"? All I've heard this year is "I want that".
I have a couple of thoughts, but am by no means an expert.
Ralene's Non-Fool-Proof Ways to Help Develop a Giving Spirit in Young Children (NFPWHDGSYC for short)
1. Make it tangible for them. Yes, it is important to support programs like Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree, etc., but the fact is, the kids don't see anything that comes of it. They're toy gets shipped to some foreign place they can barely comprehend to a group of children they can hardly relate to.
2. Make sure their input counts! Let them help make decisions--what gift to buy, what kind of cookies to make, how to decorate a card/wrap a present.
3. The more hands on, the better! The more the kids can do to hel, the more they'll be invested in it, the more they'll appreciate what happens to it at the end. If you purchase a toy, let them wrap it (with your help, of course) and then make a card for the child. Let them make the cookie dough, roll it out, cut the cookies, and, of course, the best part--decorating them!
4. As you're going through all the different parts of the process, be sure to explain to the kids what you're doing and why. Emphasize the difference in needs and wants.
5. Have them give of themselves. Help them understand how blessed they are by having them choose a few toys of their own to drop off at a charity. Then take them to drop it off! Let them put it in the box and take it in with you. This completes the thought process in their little heads. It didn't stop with putting it in the box and Mommy hauling it off to Goodwill.
6. Of course, they need to see you model the giving spirit. The giving spirit we harness during Christmas time should live in our hearts all year long. When they see us giving of our time, money, resources, and when we help them understand what we are doing and why, the more they'll develop that same sense as they grow and mature.
Giving can be as much of a gift for us as it is for those who receive our gifts. So, get in the spirit, and watch as you light up the faces of many with your blessings this year!