As Christians we are called to have a heart that gives and serves gladly-all year round. Yet giving really takes the spotlight during the holidays. I try to encourage my children to be giving and to meet needs whenever they see them:
Proverbs 3:27 – Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.
Of course they are KIDS and often forget this admonishment; they must be frequently reminded that if they can help their sister/brother then they should go ahead and do it.
At Christmas I like to encourage my children to participate in Operation Christmas Child to not only teach my children about giving, and thinking of others, but also to try to combat some of the “gimme, gimmes” that so easily overtakes young minds (and some adult ones) this time of year. It’s harder to think selfishly while thinking selflessly.
Yesterday I took the kids to the dollar store to choose our items for their three O.C.C. boxes. They are each going to send a box to a child of the same sex and age as themselves, so they each spent some time picking out things they themselves would like to have – while bearing in mind that they weren’t going to get to keep them but rather were going to give them away.
It took Little Prince (who will be 4 in 3 weeks) a few minutes to catch on, but soon he was saying. “And THIS is for my boy! And THIS is for my boy!” Even Princess, 9 and a half, looked at me once and asked with a little longing in her voice, “Mom, can I have a Polly Pocket for Christmas, TOO?” But I was very proud of them for throwing themselves into it so eagerly and cheerfully picking out things they imagined some other child would enjoy instead of them.
Arriving home with our purchases provided new challenges. Little Prince completely attached himself to one item. At first I tried to reason with him while firmly and gently put my foot down. “No, you may not keep these dinosaurs, we bought them for the boy. If you would like some dinosaurs, you MAY ask for some for your birthday very soon. Would you like to ask for dinosaurs for your birthday?” He agreed and reluctantly added the little package of plastic dinosaurs to the box.
Minutes later, we experienced one of the worst meltdowns I have ever seen. The fury in his eyes sparkled as he wrestled over his desire for those little dinosaurs. I know that he can’t really grasp “three weeks from now”.. but I know that he has a memory like an elephant and he can hold on to the hope of that special birthday present. I also know that there is a deeper lesson in here that we can all learn from – how hard it is to let go of something we desire in order to serve and love others!
This morning he asked me about them one more time. He mentioned again that he wanted to keep them, I mentioned again that we bought them for the boy and that I agreed to get him some for his birthday– and that was the end of it. From having done this with my two older girls already, I have no doubt that next Christmas he will remember the little shoe boxes, and he’ll remember what they are for and how it works. He may or may not remember the dinosaurs but the seeds of giving have been planted and will continue to grow if nurtured.
This year we plan on including notes and pictures. We’ve never done this before, and I look forward to to seeing if we receive letters back. How exciting it will be if we do!
Samaritan’s Purse, who runs Operation Christmas Child, ministers to children and families around the world all year long. There are many opportunites to give and serve from January to December. At this point, our family has only participated through O.C.C., but it’s my hope that as our family grows, as God blesses our resources, and as He changes our hearts, I hope we’ll be able to give more often, more frequently throughout the year.
For Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse does more than hand them a box and walk away. From their site:
The Operation Christmas Child ministry extends far beyond a gift-filled shoe box. A primary goal of the project is to offer children the opportunity to participate in the Operation Christmas Child Discipleship Program, and to give every graduate a New Testament in their local language. In 2009-2010, an estimated 1.9 million children will have the opportunity to participate in the program, with an estimated 1.2 million of these boys and girls completing the series of Bible lessons. These discipleship materials are used by local churches as effective resources to show children how to come into relationship with God, to explore His Word, and to encourage children to grow in their faith.
If you would like to learn more about Samaritan’s Purse, or Operation Christmas Child, check out their website, http://www.samaritanspurse.org. Click here to find a drop off location near you, or here to learn more about EZ Give.
Proverbs 11:23-25 The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
I also uploaded pictures of our “operation” to the Classic Housewife fan page.