My six-year-old son can not stop talking about Christmas. As soon as the crisp fall wind starts blowing the fallen leaves around our sleepy suburban neighbourhood, the prospect of Christmas approaching consumes him. This year feels different, though. The uncertainty that has blanketed the whole world because of the COVID-19 pandemic brings a perspective we have never seen before; we have changed our priorities and gone back to the essentials. The importance of giving back could not be more critical this year as so many people around the world have been deeply impacted by the pandemic and need help.
When I asked my son why he liked Christmas so much, his response fell on my consciousness like one of those ACME anvils in the cartoons of yesteryear.
“Because I like presents, mama.”
Oh no. That’s not what I was expecting he’d say. Queue the “Christmas is about giving, not receiving, especially now in the midst of the global pandemic” mom speech. But I left that conversation feeling unsatisfied with my explanation and was determined to show him the meaning of Christmas, rather than telling him.
Mom Joanne says Christmas is the perfect time to teach your kids about the joy of giving generously. Photo: courtesy of Joanne Legin
How do I show this little boy, who is only now, slowly, starting to grasp the concept of the importance of helping others and giving selflessly? I needed ideas. I reached out to a few moms and here’s what they said:
1. Give a Christmas hamper
A mom named Crystal organizes a Christmas hamper initiative every year. She and her family fill gift baskets that help families in need in their community with toys and essentials like hats, gloves and boots for the whole family. Crystal and her family add to their hampers all year long, making it a regular reminder of the importance of giving back.
2. Make a donation in someone’s name
Leigh-Anne and her family like to pick gifts from an online charity gift catalogue, like World Vision’s Gift Catalogue
. Each year in early December, she and her family sit down together, decide on a gift giving budget, and then choose which gifts to buy and for whom. In past years they have given the gift of a fruit trees and seeds
, and baby chicks
3. Try a reverse advent calendar
Moms Megan and Michelle do a reverse advent calendar with their kids. Items are selected and placed in a box each day in December leading up to Christmas, including toiletries, clothing, toys and non-perishable food. On Christmas Eve, their families bring the boxes to a local shelter. For Megan and Michelle this experience has had an immeasurable impact on their children, increasing their level of social awareness and empathy. As a side benefit, their children’s Christmas wish lists have significantly changed and ultimately shrunk. Understanding the needs of others has given them a new perspective on what’s important.
Generosity is a learned behaviour, and Christmas is the perfect time to start, especially this year when so many people have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Having my bright-eyed six-year-old play a role in helping another child or family in need is a great way to show him what selfless giving is all about. And it's the start of something he can carry forward into the years to come.