The holiday season is quickly approaching. With Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve been taking some extra time to reflect on my life and really notice all.the.things I’m so very thankful for. From the really big things all the way down to the tiny, minute things. I’ve been thinking about this post for a few weeks, brainstorming it all in my mind and somewhat dragging my feet about putting it out there. As I was sitting in church today, listening to the sermon, I realized that it was extremely important for me to put this message out there and share with anyone else who may be feeling the same way.
My children and my family are extremely blessed to live a life where we never have to worry if there will be food on the table or clothes to wear. We never have to worry where we’re going to sleep or how we’re going to get somewhere. But the very harsh reality is, MANY people in this world worry about those things every single day. Things that most of us take for granted. Many children do not know where their next meal is coming from and they often wonder if they’ll have electricity at home to keep them warm.
Because my children are blessed with the lives they have, I have tried my hardest to make them aware of how difficult some peoples lives are. Partly because I don’t want them to grow up and be ungrateful brats and mostly because I want them to be empathetic and have a servants heart.
When my kids start acting particularly entitled, I usually give them a big ‘ole dose of “here’s how bad some people have it.” I’ve learned over the years that it’s best to be honest with our children and not try to hide poverty from them. It’s important that they see it, they understand it and that they process it. The amazing thing is – your kids will want to help the less fortunate. I’ll never forget the first year we took our then-4-year-old daughter to the City Mission’s annual banquet. Children, living at the shelter, put on a beautiful play. My tiny little pre-schooler was so touched by that play and her heart was broken that those children (who looked just like her) did not have a home, or toys of their own. My sweet girl had the idea that we should collect toys for the children at the Mission and deliver them for Christmas. She spear-headed the entire project and I was so unbelievably proud to watch her be a helper for those in need.
Y’all, Acts of Service is where it’s at! Involving your children, and the entire family, in Acts of Service will not only make you feel good about what you’re doing but it will also really make a difference in others’ lives. Sometimes we’ll never truly know how much it means to a stranger to receive an act of kindness. Below are some of my favorite ways to teach my children thankfulness and kindness, not only during the holidays but all throughout the year!
- Take your children grocery shopping with you. Make the entire trip dedicated to buying meals and supplies for the homeless shelter or your local foodbank. As you’re shopping, talk to your children about how some people are not lucky to have warm meals at home. Get your children involved in the decision process on what to buy and what foods make them the happiest!
- Adopt an ‘Angel’ from the Angel Tree. Adopt a child that is close to your children’s age. Take your child shopping with you and let them help pick out the items. Talk to them about how sometimes we humans get to be Santa for less fortunate families.
- Start a winter coat drive at your school or office. Many adults and children go cold every winter because their families can not afford a winter coat. Often children are absent from school simply because they do not have clean clothes to wear to school. Let’s work to keep every baby warm this winter!
- Clean out your play rooms each year before Christmas. Get your children involved on what items to donate and let your children go with you during the donation process. Explain that their old toys will be ‘treasure’ to a child in need. (Or run a new toy drive!)
- Take your entire family and go serve a meal at the City Mission. Honestly, this will be the harshest dose of reality that you will ever receive; talk about a humbling experience. It is also a gentle reminder that none of us are that far away from poverty.
What do you all do with your children to ‘pay it forward?’ Leave a comment below and let us know!
Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!