Monday, November 14, 2011

Focusing on Others This Holiday Season

As a parent to young children, I am constantly trying to find ways to teach about service to others, empathy, giving, etc. This is a HUGE deal to me- one of the most important life lessons that I want my kids to live out on a daily basis and I totally stress about it.


It is so easy for children to get caught up in the whole idea of “Santa” and wanting lots of toys for Christmas… I remember the holidays last year, watching each child as he/she opened present after present~ the attitude, the grandiose expectations... it was fun and all---but I’m not gonna lie, it kinda made my stomach turn a little.


I thought to myself, “next year will be different”. Less emphasis on presents. We are going to focus more on doing activities as a family and more importantly, giving to others.


The Magi Project.

Every year, people from across the US join together to prepare shoeboxes for children who live in poverty stricken countries--- children who may have never received a present in their entire lives. With love and compassion, these boxes are filled with toys, candy, toiletries, clothing, etc.


Ben, Drew, Ethan, and Sav were super excited about building boxes for other 4 year olds like themselves! Each kiddo was in charge of one box and had a blast picking out the items for his/her child.11 november 2011 005



As Savannah picked out hair accessories and various goodies, she would exclaim: “Oh, my girl is going to LOOOOVE these!” (Talk about making this Mama’s heart melt)


I tried to let them be in charge of every aspect of this project and only stepped in when I needed to… you know- like to pay for everything. Lol.

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Now, don’t think for one second that this little trip to the store was all calm and sweet with perfectly behaved angels. At times, they were like 4 mini-tornadoes destroying every in their path. I was trying to take items out of the cart as fast as they were throwing them in! On several occasions, I had to “huddle-up” and calmly explain what we were doing again. LOL.


Early Sunday morning, the kids ran downstairs in excitement to fill their boxes for their boys and girl. I was honestly, quite surprised at how much they understand at this age--- the importance of what they are doing and how they are helping others.

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The boxes were filled with: stuffed animals, cars, crayons, coloring books, toothbrushes/toothpaste, shampoo, soap, washcloths, combs/brushes, socks and undies.



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Ethan and Ben11 november 2011 025




Proudly walking them up to church on Sunday morning.




During the service, our big kids walked their boxes up to the front. Over 500 boxes were collected!


Ethan and Andrew.




So great. I was so proud of my little peeps.


We are also going to cut back on presents this year and try to focus more on fun family activities instead: the Polar Express Train ride, Grand Prairie Lights, Holiday in the Park at Six Flags, etc. Not just “things”, but family experiences, ya know?

I can’t wait.


Lots to be thankful for this holiday season.

suz signature


Jennifer said...

You should also check out Emily's Smile Boxes, Every few months they have a smile box making party and invite anyone that wants to come put together boxes. All the goodies go to kids and their siblings in hospitals. Check out the website for more details. The little girl that started it was 10 at the time.

SassyIfLady said...

Such a wonderful lesson to teach the kids. They'll remember this forever! My now 13-year-old reminded me the other day of a Saturday when we wrapped presents at a community center in a housing project community. His eyes were wide open that day! But the older women there just loved on was great. He'll remember it forever. He learned in those few hours the importance of giving back to those in need. He was only 5!

Michelle said...

You're a wonderful mother!

Anonymous said...

If you're interested you might also try something I read (and my family follows) from Kathy Lee Gifford. Her kids were given three gifts each Christmas. And it represents the three gifts baby Jesus received from the wise men. Makes it much less stressful for me to just buy three gifts each Christmas.

Anonymous said...

are the lights in Grand Prairie Santa Land or is it something different?

Tiffany said...

I just want to share that I am from the Philippines and a couple of years ago, our church tied up with a church in the US and received the shoe boxes prepared by the kids. We then visited a local orphanage and delivered these boxes to them. I'd love to look for those pictures to show you (and your kids) just how happy you are making these orphans in the Philippines. They are overjoyed upon seeing the toys and other stuff inside their shoeboxes. It was an even bigger deal for them that these came from other kids in the United States. It meant a whole lot to them. Thanks for reminding me of this proeject. I might encourage our church to do it again for this holiday season.

It's just amazing to see how these boxes were prepared before delivery to countries such as the Philippines.

Thank you for sharing. Wonderful post. I will also encourage my kids to do the same when they're a little bigger.

Anonymous said...

Those boxes are a great idea. This will be my son's first Christmas, and we're trying to set the precedent (for ourselves - he won't remember!) to just give him a few things. One primary gift and one or two small ones. Who knows what the grandparents will have in mind, though.

Another blogger I read, Rachel at mentioned a great saying for Christmas gifts: "Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read."

-Holly in California

Jessica said...

We also do the 3 present approach (3 wisemen,god is 3 in 1, etc) and istead of buying for family memembers, friends, etc, we dontate money to a charity or their chosing. We also ask that others do the same instead of buying for our children. They love getting a card in the mail saying that a donation was made in their honor. It's a gift that keeps on giving!

Sarah said...

My oldest is the same age as your kiddos, and last year we filled her Advent Calendar with "tasks"--each day of advent, she got to do something for someone else. For example, she made Christmas cards for soldiers, took cards to a local nursing home, called her grandparents to tell them she loves them, etc. She LOVED it and can't wait to do it again this year. We are going to try it with our 2 year old too--we'll see how that goes! I TOTALLY get where you're coming from--we have limited all family to one gift for each of our girls because we just have too much stuff and too many other have nothing at all. Enjoy your family!

Gina aka Slappy said...

We used to do this when our kiddos were little too. It really does help them to see that there are kids out there who don't have much.
Good job!

Stacie and Tony said...

What a wonderful idea! and a great way to teach them about giving in a real way!

Amber said...

I couldn't agree more! My son will turn two in February and I want to do the same things. My parents never got us a ton of gifts at Christmas so it just seems normal for me not to do the same. I'm excited to do things like this with him and glad to see other families doing the same.

HI. I'm Julie. The Stalker. said...

awww - this is so sweet!

Barbara Manatee said...

Great job! I plan to do an Angel tree or something like that through our church or daycare this year. Last year, our daycare sponsored a family and I took the kids shopping to pick things out. It was a great lesson for them and I want to do it each year with them.

Alissa said...

You inspired me to involve my kids....our daycare collects toys for an orphanage in India and normally, I just go and buy the toys and place them in the box at daycare but after reading your post, I decided to tell the kids about less fortunate kids and how we have to take care of them too. I gave them a toy each to place in the box and they did it without any fuss (I thought I'd hear "but I want it" or something like that) Proud mama! Thanks for reminding me to not underestimate my kiddos! :o)

cat said...

We also have the shoebox project here in South Africa!

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