Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Best Gift

There is a Care Bears commercial on television that drives me absolutely bonkers!  Their catchy little slogan?  "How could you choose just one?  When you've got more bears you've got more fun."  This commercial runs nearly every half an hour on Nickelodeon Junior, which happens to be the favorite channel in our house.  Each time it comes on I cringe and I just want to turn it off.  The message they are conveying to my young impressionable children is certainly not what my husband and I try to instill in them.

Our goal this year is to simplify and reduce the amount of "stuff" our children receive.  While the marketing campaigns geared towards our children are trying to relay a completely different message, we are working hard to encourage them to choose a few things to put on their lists.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I've encouraged them to choose their top three.  While they typically change, there are a few items that seem to come up more often than others.  In years past, we may have been inclined to purchase those most coveted items, but this year we are purchasing some and passing on the other ideas to grandparents.  It is our hope this will decrease the amount of gifts they receive and instead of being overwhelmed with too many new things, they'll be able to enjoy what they really wanted the most.

In my heart, I think this is the best gift we can give our children.  To teach them that more is not better.  To teach them to really think about their needs and wants and narrow their wants down to what they truly desire the most.  This may be a lot to ask of children so young, but the sooner we can teach this lesson the better.  We live in a society of excess.  Our social influences are encouraging us to want more.  To not settle for just one.  To have the best even if we have a perfectly functioning item that's simply not the latest model.  Never being satisfied is not a pleasant way to live.

When will we decide this enough?  When will our society, as a whole, be content with what we have instead of always desiring more?  Never?  Perhaps, but we are going to do our best to teach our children to appreciate what they have.  To be grateful for what they receive and not disappointed because they didn't get everything they may have wanted.  To realize there are children who have little to nothing and they are blessed in so very many ways.

To encourage this way of thinking, our children need to be given age-appropriate opportunities to serve.  They need to experience the gratifying feeling of giving.  Our charity, From Cover to Cover, is doing a month-long book drive to reach a goal of 500 new books for children in need.  This week my kids were asked to choose some books they thought other children may enjoy.  When I first asked them to share what books they thought we should purchase, they were pretty adamant I should be purchasing books for them.  We had a small discussion about the amount of books in our home and how some children have none.  I could tell they were mulling this over in their heads and soon they were sharing some wonderful ideas.  We purchased several books and they seemed very proud and pleased with their decisions.  It is a simple act of service, one they can relate to, that will continue to shape them into children with servant hearts.    

I may be a little behind the times, but I've recently seen this little quote on several sites about Christmas for our children.  I love it and wanted to share it with you.  Not only is this great for our children, but it would also be awesome for a child in need.  What a great family service project!  I think it would be wonderful to encourage our children to purchase one of the wants off of their own Christmas list to be donated to Toys for Tots.  While it may be hard for them to do, it would be a powerful experience to donate something they want themselves.  

Perhaps the best gift we will give our children this Christmas won't actually be a material possession. It might be the wonderful feelings that come from doing good for others or the lifelong lesson that less really is more.