A new hockey stick, a couple of Wii games, some art supplies and a new soccer ball. These are the Christmas dreams in the Fairchild house. The lists from my girls this year are reasonable and mostly practical, but some years the lists are long and imaginative. Somehow, this season that should be all about giving often becomes all about getting.
That's why we try to spend the month of December focusing on how we can help others. As winter closes in with its cold and snow, there are people without coats or even homes. The average age of a homeless person in our region is 7 years old. Can you imagine being a homeless child?
Food pantries typically run low on food at this time of the year, and some kids will go without Christmas presents because mom and dad can't afford them. Your kids need to know that they are fortunate, and they also need to know that we are called to take care of those who are less fortunate than us.
From the very beginning, God was clear that we are to help others. In Deuteronomy 15:7, God tells the Israelites "If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them." We, too, are to have open hands and hearts toward those who have less than we have. Proverbs 19:17 tells us "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done."
If God thinks the poor are important, then so should we. And this time of the year is the perfect time to help your children learn to serve others. Their acts of service don't have to be big or expensive, but they can be. Encourage your children to think of others this Christmas season. Show them how to be the hands and feet of Christ to others.
- Sign up to ring the Salvation Army bell somewhere in your community. The Salvation Army feeds and houses those who need food and shelter year-round, but their biggest fundraiser is those red kettles in front of the stores at Christmas. Even if it's cold out when you ring, it's a great opportunity to point out to your kids that while you get to go home and get warm afterward, the people the Salvation Army helps may not have homes to go to.
- Adopt a family. Let your kids shop for another child's Christmas wishes. You'll be surprised at how generous your kids will want to be.
- Help fill a food pantry. Take your kids to the grocery with a local food pantry's wish list and let them choose the items to buy. Then take the items to the food pantry.
- Create a service advent calendar. We have envelopes for every day of December until Christmas that hang on a ribbon banner. Each envelope contains a notecard with a suggestion for some way that the girls can serve someone that day. Yesterday, the card told them to help a classmate. Today's card tells them to find a way to help their coach, as both girls have practice today.
- Take cookies to a nursing home or to your local fire station or police station.
- Let your children serve kids who are younger than them at a Christmas event at your church.
However you can focus your kids on helping others this month, do it. It can be big or small. Simply getting your kids to focus on other people can keep your kids' Christmas wishes reasonable and give them a chance to obey God's commands to take care of the needy. Make this month, a month of service to others in your home.