Christmas is a mere six days away. Do you have your shopping done? You still have time to finish this weekend for those last minutes gifts. Christmas is seen traditionally as a time for happiness, celebration and in particular, a time for giving. Each family has their own Christmas traditions and meaning. Children find a yet different meaning and one that changes as they grow and develop.
Once the beginning of December arrives, children have only one thing on their mind. They are thinking about what type of toy they want to ask Santa for, checking out the latest electronics and marking down expensive items on their Christmas wish list. It is easy for the younger generation to get wrapped in the commercialism of the season and miss the true meaning of the holidays when they are bombarded by the media and advertisements specifically targeted towards them. Through all that, it may be difficult to teach children the importance of giving during the holiday season.
During our 4-H activities, we teach the importance to community service. Youth who give back to their communities are more likely to gain a fond appreciation for their town and community. These can be year-long efforts and others can be short-term. For an example, we had youth raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which helps put a cure to childhood cancer.
This holiday season, our 4-H Junior Leaders recently sponsored a child during the Angel Tree program. The youth had the opportunity to select a child’s name and purchase a wonderful gift for them. This warmed my heart because they were not thinking about themselves or what gift they want, they thought about how important it is to give a child from the community a gift this Christmas.
Giving a gift at Christmas is open for all ages. Gift giving is what you put into the gift, rather than the cost of the gift that’s important. After the holidays, gift giving does not have to be over. People continue to be hungry or in need of companionship as time goes by. It’s important for children to know that a generous heart is important all year round. Child that knows the importance will help them develop a thoughtful perspective about their place in the world and cultivate solid values.