September 28th, 2016 | Mandi Mitchell
It’s almost October and for most people, they’re excited because that means it’s almost time for Halloween (my fiance is one of those people). Me, I’m that annoying person who jumps for joy when Christmas stuff starts to flood the stores on October 31st. I love fall, it’s my favorite season, but the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also the most anxious time of the year and most ‘I’m in debt now from all the gifts I had to buy’ time of year.
We all get caught up in spending hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on loved ones around Christmas. All the deals draw us in and it’s hard not to shop, especially for your little ones. Seeing their excitement when they wake up to a ton of gifts under the tree is one of the best feelings but, let’s all be real, how many of those gifts do they actually want or use for that matter?!
If your kids are like mine, they’ll play with something for a day or two and then get bored. All those toys I buy always, always, always get thrown in a bin and stored away in such a short amount of time. Such a waste of money! Well, that’s not happening this year! This year I’m going to save money, teach my kids gratitude and get them to do a good deed.
This year I thought it was a good time to tell my kids the truth about Santa Claus (they already knew that Christmas was about Jesus but Santa was that awesome dude who got them cool stuff). I wound up telling them that it was Mommy all along that was buying and wrapping the presents and that Christmas is more than just gifts. I told them that this year we were going to try something different.
I explained to my kids that this year the tree wouldn’t be surrounded by a sky-high collection of presents but rather only 4 things for each person. Of course, this didn’t go over so well at first, because I, myself, am one of those people who loves nothing more than to get my kids the things they want to just to see that ‘Christmas morning smile’ on their faces. In other words, they’re spoiled to a certain point.
After shushing them for five minutes to try to get the idea across, I explained to them that there are so many kids and families out there who are less fortunate than us. I also want them to realize that a ton of gifts isn’t what makes Christmas so special. I also want them to grasp the fact that not everyone gets to unwrap toys and video games and clothes, that some people don’t even get to open up any gifts at all. I want them to understand that some of those less fortunate merely wish for socks to keep their feet warm or food for their family so they can enjoy a hot meal.
So this December 2016, we start a new tradition. 4 gifts. 4 gifts to teach appreciation and to instill gratitude. This 4 gift idea is something I saw on Pinterest and the concept is to give one gift they want, one gift they need, one gift to wear and one gift to read. Easy, simple and so much cheaper!
This whole thing got me thinking about what I’m trying to teach my kids and I decided to take this whole notion a step further. So, I’m also going to go to the store with my boys and pick out 4 gifts for another child in need. I want my kids to know that Christmas isn’t about receiving but about giving. That we should be grateful for what we have because others aren’t so lucky. I want them to be compassionate and empathetic. I want my kids to see how grateful others are for receiving gifts and I want them to see how much better it feels to bring joy to someone else rather than being worried about themselves only.
Just in case anyone else is looking to do the same, I’m listing some great places below where you can donate things for the Holidays.
USMC: Toys for Tots
New York Cares Winter Wishes
Cell Phones for Soldiers
FAFS’ Holiday Celebrations (Gifts for Foster Care NJ)
New Jersey 101.5 (They do this awesome Holiday drive for families in need) Family Adoption
There are so many agencies and programs out there who help those in need. A simple google search will give you all the information you need.