When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Gifts from the heart
Christmas is just over a week away, and everywhere I go the excitement of the season is palpable in the air. I'm not sure who is more anxious for Christmas to arrive in our house: the boys, who are eagerly waiting to see what Santa will bring them this year, or I, who will love to see the looks on their faces when they discover their Christmas morning surprises! For many of us, this season is a joyful, magical time of year, a time for sharing gifts and special moments with loved ones, a time for lighting up the darkness of winter with laughter and celebration. It's also a time to remember that there are many people around us for whom Christmas is not so joyful, and that in the midst of all of our giving to those we love, we must also give to those who truly need us.
It's difficult for children who are growing up in a very comfortable life to have any real understanding of what it feels like to go without, either physically or emotionally. Matt and I think it's important, however, to try to give the boys some sense of this, especially at this time of year when it is more easily obvious to them how abundant their own blessings are. We look for opportunities to give to people or creatures in need and make sure, now that the boys are older, that they play an active role in that giving. They may be still too young to make a profound difference in the world, but there are many things that they can do: shopping for new books (some of their own favourites) to bring to a local Christmas book drive, donating a part of their allowance to a charity, making catnip toys and bringing them to the local animal shelter (thanks, Mom, for this wonderful idea!), or being a good friend to someone who is sad at holiday time due to a difficult family situation. With each chance they have to help someone, we talk with the boys about what their "gift" means and how happy it will make the recipient. I think their part in helping others makes the boys feel happy too.
The other day when Will was bringing some canned and boxed goods to school for the holiday food drive, he wondered aloud to me whether the hungry children in a distant poverty-stricken country would even like the kind of cereal we have here. He thought the school was sending the food to a far-off land where there are many people in need, and was shocked to know that there are people right in our own community who don't have enough to eat. I absolutely didn't fault him for his understanding of the situation, but it made me realize that we still have some more work to do to help open up the boys' eyes to the fact that there is hardship and sadness right around us, if we take the time to look. I hope someday they will realize that while it is wonderful to have a mountain of presents under the Christmas tree, the most meaningful gifts of all are the ones that we give from the heart.