This past Christmas our kids came to us with elaborate wish lists. They were filled with excitement as they did not hold back their desires for gifts and surprises. It was awesome to see their belief in goodness. We loved that they knew they were worth the world and that they truly deserved it. However, our hearts sank a little knowing we did not have the finances to purchase them such grand items. That got us thinking, what if money was not an option? What if we could afford to by them whatever they wanted? Would we?
I began to pray, asking God how do we teach our children they are worth it, while also showing them the importance of being thankful in all situations. We watch as a generation of people feel sense of entitlement and we do not want to perpetuate the problem. I felt like God showed me a solution to our particular situation.
I decided I would take our holiday traditions and use them as a duel purpose. I shared my thoughts with my parents, my daughter- Georgia, her boyfriend - Joshua, and our tween girls. Everyone was on board and ready for the task.
We as a family turned our "Lemonade" stand into a "Hot Cocoa" stand. My parents, Georgia, and her boyfriend purchased stuff to make cookies, chocolate dipped pretzel sticks and marshmallows, with all the extra fixings. We took an evening, gathered the family together and made Christmas goodies galore. My step-daughters arrived late from out of town and jumped right in to put on the finishing touches.
The next day the three middle girls, my parents, my husband, and myself put in a full day selling hot chocolate and deserts to raise money to buy Christmas presents for children in our local homeless shelter. We had huge amount of community support. It was a testimony to so many that our kids would be willing to sacrifice their holiday break for others. People caught the vision and their generosity was astounding. My aunt who lives two states away heard about what our kids were up to and sent them a donation in a card to help their efforts.
Our family raised almost $300 to purchase brand new gifts. We called the homeless shelter and asked for the ages and gender of the kids who were there. We then took our girls to Kohl's. They each picked a couple kids and had to hand pick presents. Our daughter's learned how little $300 really was when it came to purchasing power for Christmas gifts. We used coupons and sale prices to shop smart. The reality kicked in quickly once they had to make choices for people they had never met before.
After the shopping spree was all over, we had the girls personally wrap the presents for the kids they were going to be giving them to. You could feel everyone's happiness as they anticipated the excitement the homeless kids would experience Christmas morning. We had gifts for nine kids and two expecting mothers, all of which were delivered Christmas Eve to make sure everything would go off without a hitch.
You would have thought we already had our Christmas from the joyful mood everyone was in. At that moment our kids got it. They appreciated what they had. They were thankful for all the good things life offered them. If they did not get one gift that year, their hearts would have been happy. What made things even better was the next morning when we were all gathered together. My husband took on extra jobs to make this year one they would never forget and we were able to give them a very nice Christmas.
There was a sense of satisfaction you could see in the smiles on our children's faces. There was also a warmth in our hearts as we felt the blessings of heaven in our home. It made for a memorable year that will have lasting effects beyond material rewards. Instead of feeling entitled, our kids got see the value in people and yet have an appreciation for things.