Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

The holiday season revolves around kindness to others, and there’s no doubt that gift-giving is a component in that. There is joy in giving to others, as well as receiving, but if we don’t teach children early what the true spirit of the season is, the receiving takes center stage. Before we realize what’s happened, their rooms are overflowing with toys they don’t need and hardly play with, yet the demand for more persists. Here are some tips that will help highlight the generous spirit of the holiday season, while limiting the amount of unused material items in your home.

Focus on gratitude.

Although there is excitement in getting gifts, let your children experience the excitement of giving as well. Involve them in the shopping, and let them make decisions for what other people should receive. Create a thoughtful process and have discussions about how other families may have less than what they need. Also talk about how to be grateful for not only what they currently have, but anything they receive from others. Not all gifts are ideal, but it truly is the thought that counts.

Volunteer as a family.

A gift doesn’t always come wrapped. Sometimes the best gift is your own presence, and a family volunteer opportunity teaches that giving to those in need is more rewarding than any present under the tree. This time of year, organizations are always looking for volunteers to run kitchens, help with toy drives, or support community events.

Sort and donate unused items.

Start a donation box once the holiday season starts, and have your children decide what toys or clothes they don’t want or need anymore. Find a charity that will take gently used items and then give them to families who could use them. This supports the lesson that people do not need cluttered rooms filled to the brim with material things, and focuses on individual items they appreciate having.

Sponsor a child or family for the holidays.

Secret Santa comes in many forms, and there are organizations that make it possible for lower-income families to receive additional assistance during this time of year. There are opportunities to sponsor an individual or a family, where you receive basic information about the recipient and what they need and want. Giving anonymously is different than typical gift-giving, because you rarely see the recipient’s joy. The delight comes from selflessly giving to others, without anything expected in return.

These are important lessons for children to learn early, with the goal being that they will grow into grateful adults that carry these ideals on. The truth is, we really don’t need much more clutter in our homes, especially if we have kids. The spirit of the holiday season is about giving to others, particularly to those that struggle to fill their own homes with basic necessities. Your children don’t need every hot toy on the shelf, and you don’t need the mess. This lesson will make the holidays even more fun for the entire family, bringing happiness to those that need support.