So, before you start to think I am the biggest Christmas Grinch ever, let me explain…
I feel that in our society today, kids can become so easily influenced by marketing and materialism that they can inadvertently get into the mindset of “I want” instead of “I have”. They make lists of wants to give to Santa and their family, knowing that they will magically have presents under the tree for them on Christmas morning. They are not old enough to go out and buy gifts for other people on their own yet and can miss the lesson of giving and receiving. But I have devised a plan to (hopefully) avoid this with my son as he becomes old enough to understand Christmas.
“Our family will write a wish list AND a ‘give list’ for the holidays”
Teaching my son the lessons of giving rather than receiving, and to be grateful for what you have, is my end goal with this plan. (Now mind you, he is only 13 months so this won’t be something we do this year, but plan to when he understands it). At Christmas time when he becomes excited for the newest toy or trinket that everyone has to have, I hope that he can take a minute to look at what he already has and be grateful for it. To see that he already is blessed with many toys that some kids are not fortunate enough to have. So, when he makes his Christmas list for what he wants, he also has to make a list of what he gives. Every year, if he wants to receive toys, he must give away toys. Our family will write a wish list AND a ‘give list’ for the holidays.
Here is how it will work. His wish list to mom and dad must contain 5 kinds of things: a want, a need, something to wear, something to read, and something to do (thank you Pinterest for the brilliant idea!). For every few ‘wants’ he puts on his wish list, he must put one toy/item (something that he already has) on his give list. There may be a toy he has outgrown, or something that he no longer enjoys playing with. That toy will now be a gift to give to another. The items on his give list he will then take himself and donate for another child to receive for the holidays.
Hopefully this will do two things. First I hope that it will instill in him a love to give to others, perhaps those who are not as fortunate as he is. To have him acknowledge that giving to others and seeing the joy it brings them is sometimes the greatest gift of all. Secondly, I hope it will give him cause to reflect on what he really wants and what he already has. Maybe that new toy looks really cool but when he knows he will have to give away one of the toys he already has, it may not be worth it after all.
The magic of Christmas is not the presents themselves, but the joy the present brings. As I have grown, my favorite part of Christmas is seeing the reactions on everyone’s faces as they open their gifts. I want my son to have joy on Christmas morning when he opens his gifts under the tree (because that will be the best gift he could give me). But I also want him to know that he brought that same joy to someone else.
What do you think of doing a ‘give list’? Is there a similar tradition you have in your house for the holidays? Let me know in the comments below!