Raising a Good Samaritan in Selfish World
Don't let the post title fool you, my kids still have several selfish, greedy tendencies, they are kids. They are little sinners, as am I. Let's be honest, Christmas morning can be tough even for grown ups if we don't get what we have been wanting. I refuse to let that selfish, greedy monster be fed to my kids. I'm gonna starve him out.
When kids are very young, it is difficult to do meaningful traditions for the holidays they truly understand. Kids lives revolve around toys, snack time, and play time for the most part. I want my little people to understand the bigger world out there and that there are people beyond the walls of our home, their school, and our church. They may not fully grasp it when they are 4, 5, or even 9 or 10 but it's moving their tiny hearts in the right direction, towards Christ. Here are a few ways we have seen work in the hearts of our little kids so far:
1) Operation Christmas Child.
Each of my boys got a red and green shoebox. We went online and watched some of these videos so my boys could see the other kids joyfully recurve the shoeboxes. We talked about how some of these kids don't have mommies and daddies, they live in camps or cold, and they don't have any toys. We talk about how good it feels to help other people who are sad. My four year old decided to give the boy we were packing his box for a name, "Jordan." It was sweet to see their faces as they watched the videos and related to the kids. They were so happy seeing the kids open their shoeboxes and were squealing with the kids.
We then went shopping. We got a baseball, coloring books, cars, play dough, and so much more and each of my boys hand picked gifts they thought would make "the boy with no toys" happy. We wrote him a note and told him God loved him and we do too. Though they may not totally understand, I truly believe it is fostering a sense of generosity, love, and compassion for others at a young age. It is opening their eyes and heart to the people of our world, not just our inner circle. It is modeling Jesus and molding their hearts like His every time we participate. We are excited to go here online to pay to ship our box and find out where our box ends up. Maybe the little boys name really will be Jordan, who knows! I encourage you to do the same. It's not too late! Box drop off is all week this week. Check the website for more details.
2) Thanksgiving Dinner Delivery.
We bring our kids to a local home for the elderly who are shut ins through our church's Thanksgiving program. The people love seeing our kids. We get a chance to deliver them a Thanksgiving meal and pray with them if they let us. Maybe you could put together a box for a local food pantry, serve at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, or have your kids donate some of their money to the cause. Seeing the actual people you help is a real connector if possible. Again, this is fostering a sense of giving to others who have less either in money or in spirit. One day I truly believe they will get it if we model picking up the lost and hurting- not just walking by.
3) The Three Gift Rule.
Jesus got three gifts. So do we.
I know this rule is super tough. We only apply it to our own family. Grandparents still give gifts because we all know denying that to grandparents is a sin. (wink wink) When one of the twins was only 2 or 3 he was done opening gifts and said, "is that it?" And my heart sunk. What am I creating in my child's heart? I am the one feeding the greedy monster. Me. We started this rule young so it has been easy to implement. Keeping the number of gifts at three makes it so they know what to expect. They know that Christmas is not about just presents. Each year is grows their tiny hearts a little closer to knowing and truly experiencing what Christmas is for.
Here are my boys last Christmas. Apparently I took zero pictures in Christmas itself. Oops ;)
Let's raise grateful kids. Let's raise kind kids. Kids who will be like the good samaritan, not the ones who kept on walking. Let's raise kids who have hearts like Jesus. Let's raise kids who love others and let's be that model for them too. When the holidays are rushing in and bombarding our kids with toy ads and "the wants" let's pray things like this reign them back in and refocus their hearts and ours. It will never be perfect, there will still be fits and selfishness fighting the good. Yet, yet we will have these things to help destroy the greedy monster. Each time they are the Good Samaritan, their hearts will grow.