While driving with my four-year-old today, he wanted to tell riddles. Given his age, I wasn't expecting a high level of humor, but thought maybe I'd get some cute material for the family Christmas letter that I'm struggling to write. I suggested a Christmas riddle and he responded:
"What do a gun and bullets have in common?"
(pause) "That's your Christmas riddle?"
"Yeah, remember how I want a Nerf gun for Christmas?"
Hmm, very festive, buddy! Time to pull out the box of books about Jesus' birth, and perhaps also a few activities to teach him that it's better to give than receive...
I'm realistic, and know that my kids are excited about their Christmas wish lists. But that also means it's easy to talk about those whose families can't afford presents. Consider a special shopping trip to choose some gifts that will be donated to Toys for Tots. Another option is an organization called Angel Tree, which connects children of prison inmates with people that can provide Christmas gifts on their behalf.
Thinking globally, there are obviously needs that are much deeper than those of gifts. The World Vision Christmas Gift Catalog allows you to "shop" for items that can transform impoverished lives. For instance, $100 can purchase a goat and two chickens, providing a steady supply of protein to nourish a family. A gift of $85 provides a bicycle for a girl that couldn't otherwise attend school safely and consistently.
Another wonderful resource, all year long, is a website called Big-Hearted Families. Whether it's helping your family nurture attitudes of kindness and compassion, or contributing to your community with a service project, you'll find great ideas here. I appreciate that there are ideas for kids of all ages, and they really make it easy to jump right in.
Here are some other helpful sites related to service:
VolunteerMatch - matches up your interests and location with volunteer opportunities
Do Something - teens are connected to service in ways that "[don’t] require money, an adult, or a car"
United We Serve - a government resource to link volunteers and causes, encouraging users to register their own projects
How do you encourage a giving spirit during the holidays?