Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Teach your Kids to Think of Others - and nickel and dime your way to the poorhouse at the same time

My husband does not care for materialism. It doesn't bother me as much :)

I love gift-giving and picking out just the right thing. I love to see the delight on the receiver's face when you've "hit the mark" and gotten them something they really wanted. I don't like to be given a "limit" on what I can spend on a particular person. Not that we are extravagant, but I don't want someone to tell me I have to buy a gift for someone "under $20". I don't want to pick out my gift by it's price. I always feel like I have to come really close to the $20 (like 19.99) and I'll seem like a cheapskate if I find the perfect gift but it's only $15.00. Anyway, I digress - because I really want to tell you about a tradition we have that takes the emphasis away from what our children are going to "get" and gets them obsessed about giving. They literally, wake up in the morning talking about what they are going to give someone that day!

Soon after Thanksgiving (but not Too Soon...see previous post!), we draw names for Secret Angels. Everyone, including Mom and Dad, spends the next month thinking of small things to do or give to the person whose name they drew. In the past few days there have been candy bars on people's pillows - bookmarks in their band instrument cases - chores done for someone before they got up in the morning - even cookies discreetly put in Dad's briefcase.

We used to do this with our older kids (affectionately known as "the first batch") and it did help to move their focus off themselves. But I don't really remember having to be the Sole Financier of everyone's generosity back then. The First Batch must've had jobs or something - or maybe we used to give bigger allowances when we had less kids. But this tradition has become $$$. Every time I leave the house, I'm pulled aside and stealthily asked to "pick up some gum, or a special drink, or some candy" - not for them of course, but "for my special person". A few of the children have been creative and have gone into their own possessions to find things to give. Justin came out this morning and said he found a rock in his underwear drawer, all wrapped up, with the words 'Daniel' inscribed on the rock. Very mysterious, don't you think? And Molly, the only person in our family who enjoys making crafts, has given her person several beaded bracelets. Those will be hard to trace back to her....

Well, the truth is that by Christmas Eve, when we reveal our identities as someones Secret Angel, everyone has usually figured it out. But they probably won't figure out until they get much older that my husband and I have succeeded in our covert mission of making it through the season with children who are a little less greedy than they might have been otherwise.

Teaching children it's more blessed to give than to receive - Priceless.

For everything else, there's the debit card :)



Cathy said...

aYeah Debbie! : )
You are such a well spoken/written woman - this seems like a natural hobby for you.
I can't wait to see more of what is laid on your heart to share with "the world".


Mary said...

Wow, Deb! I am so impressed! Just think... after a year of blogging you could just publish them as a book!

Your blog will be a phenomenal legacy for your children! After reading your TCHF post, I'm thinking I need to spend more time "listening" to my Dad instead of telling him all MY life troubles and foibles.

Keep up the good work --you're bookmarked in my Firefox!