If you’re like me, the weeks preceding Christmas are spent searching for
the perfect gift to bring your children delight. Often, children’s sole
focus during the holiday season is upon receiving gifts, rather than
giving. Homeschool families are not immune from this tendency. So this
year, why not allow them the opportunity to give back?
Let me explain. One of the best gifts my husband and I ever gave our
children was the concept that giving was a privilege. Here are three
family traditions that helped to teach this truth.
The Gift of Food
Our Nebraska farm not only produced corn and soybeans but we also ran a
farrow-to-finish swine operation. Our yearly tradition of Santa Pig was
birthed from our family’s whimsical imagination and an abundance of
pork. This tradition of giving took on a Robin Hood-like feel when we
raided our generous freezer and found needy families in our area.
Anonymity was foremost as we delivered the sack full of frozen meat to
front doors, rang the bell, and left unnoticed. Our hope was the family
would open their grocery bag full of roasts, pork chops, and sausage to
discover a pig-shaped note declaring that Santa Pig had visited. Can you
imagine the joy our children derived from filling the bags, making the
tags, choosing the family and then stealthily delivering the meat? It
was a privilege to give to those less fortunate!
The Gift of Time
Perhaps the most neglected people are the elderly. The 10 years I worked
in a nursing home as a nurse, I frequently noticed older people didn’t
have a great deal of contact with their families over the holidays. Time
and distance were the most cited factors. Our homeschool group combined
their love of singing and the gift of time by arranging caroling to the
nursing home in our area. The Activities Director scheduled a time for
our group to go from room to room, singing much-loved Christmas songs.
After the ambulatory concert, the children visited with the residents
about their favorite Christmas memories over hot chocolate and homemade
cookies. It was a privilege to give the gift of time to the elderly!
The Gift of Service
My teenage kids were into traditions, but when serving food as a church
family at the homeless shelter was suggested, they thought we had gone
too far! Undaunted, the homeless shelter’s director was contacted, and
the date, time, and amount of food was set to serve the families staying
at the shelter. We arrived one hour ahead of the meal to make sure the
lasagna and all the fixings were hot and ready to serve. The children
were put in charge of setting the table, filling the glasses with
drinks, cutting the dessert and placing it on the tables, and later
helping clean up the dining room and the dishes. After all were served,
our family was able to share food and conversation with the residents of
the shelter, and listen to their life stories. It was a privilege to
give the gift of service to the homeless!
These three traditions were designed to teach our children how to go out
and serve others. To many homeschoolers the concept of giving is not a
new one-however, putting giving into practice can be elusive. Parents
put effort and time into sheltering their children from the hardships of
the world. While giving to the less fortunate of the world and
protecting your children might seem like two contradictory points of
view, they come together beautifully in the act of giving, especially
during the Christmas season.
Philosopher, physician and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer sums up the
concept of the privilege of giving when he said, “Even if it’s a little
thing, do something for others—something for which you get no pay but
the privilege of doing it.”
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