This blog post has been reposted, with permission, from Bril’s Blog.
Holidays are a joyous and memorable occasion that we share with our friends and family. We keep the tradition of giving by exchanging gifts and spending quality time together.
However, for many families, the struggle for survival does not change with the arrival of festivities. Sharing or exchanging gifts is not a possibility. We could acknowledge the blessings we have by giving back to people from disadvantaged background, at the same time keeping the spirit of giving alive.
Toys are the most coveted gifts for children of all ages. Parting with toys for your child may not be the easiest thing to do. Begin with some of the gently used toys by your child. Explain that there is a boy/girl who has not received a gift this Christmas and we are going to help him by giving one of yours. Let your child pick a toy. Gradually you can let your child pick a toy/gift that is a Christmas gift. Soon they will see what joys their sacrifice is bringing and will happily volunteer for next year.
For younger children, the joys of giving may not be so apparent. But you can sow the seeds of sharing at this tender age by arranging for a toy trading session with his/her playmates. Ask your child to choose a toy that she would like to trade for a different toy. Let her take her time choosing it. Once she has made up her mind (as much as possible), ask the playmates’ parents or wards to do the same. Meet at an assigned place and conduct the trade. There could be some resistance when the actual trade is about to happen. Don’t worry, as this is natural for a young child. The whole point of this exercise is to let the child willingly part with the toy in return for another one.
Visiting an orphanage
Seeing is indeed believing. Older children can learn a lot from interacting with children from vulnerable backgrounds. Select a few clothes, toys and blankets for these children before the trip.
After the visit, explain to your child that these children deserve to be given gifts by people who have gifts, since they cannot buy them on their own. Try not to get into explanations about abandonment by parents or deaths. Any attempt to do it will only confuse or scare them. If faced with questions about orphaned children and where their parents are, keep your explanations limited to ” God looks after them. And we are supposed to help, since their parents can’t do it at the moment “or something similar.