Trying to instill in our children the true reasons for Christmas has been challenging this year. The squabbles have been relentless. The complaining, constant. I'm fried.
I remember thinking about being a parent -probably back when I was a teenager and knew absolutely everything- and knowing I would undoubtedly raise selfless, grateful and generous children. Yeah, right.
Then I had an idea. It has been my habit to give things to homeless people when I am asked for help. I'd like to give money, but usually I don't have any, so I share whatever I find in the van. I have given away my groceries at times, and about 6 umbrellas, much to my husband's chagrin on a rainy Sunday. In the past few years I have taken to buying hats, gloves, socks, and hygiene products and stashing them in the van to give away.
So (here comes my idea) I bought a bunch of hats and gloves, and called Ruth, who did the same. We got together last night to make little gifts to give to folks we encounter who are down on their luck. We wrote them loving notes with a scripture to put on the boxes, and talked about Christ and his story of the good Samaritan. We discussed what we have to offer others in need, and how, if we have nothing else, we can offer a prayer up for them. The kids really got into the whole process. We packed the needed items with a granola bar and wrapped them up like presents.
It was a sweet night. The kids played, and the grown-ups talked about Ruth and Steve's baby, Rhys, who surely looks over his wonderful family as they face their first Christmas without him. We all cried here and there, hearing about him and feeling the vibrations of the family's pain. I told them how I think of them so many times a day as I tend to Jonah. All the while Jonah slept in Ruth's arms.
This morning we hustled our bundles into the van before leaving for school. The kids kept their eyes out all the way to and from school and then all the while we shopped, but it rained all day and there was not a homeless person anywhere on the streets to offer our gifts to. The forecast calls for 10 more days of the wet stuff.
Tonight we asked the kids to jot down a few ideas for us of things they might like for Christmas. The boys lists were short and reasonable. They still squabbled throughout the day, but I think that they understand -our family has been blessed, and things are just things.
Ellie asked for underwear and socks. And diamonds. Sheesh.