“Help others without any reason and give without the expectation of receiving anything in return.” ― Roy T Bennett
Want a simple idea to show your kids how to pay it forward this Christmas? Please read on…!
First though, a quick joke:
Q. What do you get if you cross an iPad with a Christmas tree?
A. A pineapple!
Sorry, bad joke moment.
But, for me, this joke also reflects a lot about modern day Christmas. Because Christmas has become very much about stuff. Expensive stuff. A lot of stuff. And often about stuff that you do on your own.
Many kids today spend Christmas Day blowing up zombies on the Playstation or playing endless rounds of Ding Dong Delivery on the iPad, rather than play a family game of Twister.
I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I struggle with the clash between the magic of Christmas and it’s endless commercialism.
I find myself trying to avoid adverts for fear my Little Lady’s Christmas list will become longer than an unravelled toilet roll.
I also refuse to put my Christmas tree up in November, because, well, Christmas Day would still be the gestation period of a ferret away.
And I absolutely refuse to buy a Peppa Pig Advent Calendar because I’m really not sure a lurid pink pig designed to appeal to the subconscious mind of a 3 year old was quite what Jesus had in mind.
When I thought about all this though, I realised behind it was a fear my Little Lady would place more and more focus of her life’s happiness on materialism, TV and fame culture and well, stuff.
Or worse – that she’d sneak off and get a tattoo of Twilight Sparkle’s cutie mark on her bottom (a My Little Pony character to the unenlightened).
And in terms of Christmas and life, that she would lose the beauty of giving.
Then we went to an Advent Beach Hut.
Advent Beach Huts – Sharing Advent As a Community
Not sure what a beach hut is? It’s one of these.
I live on the South coast of the UK, where every year 24 beach huts open their doors in December for Advent. Me and my Little Lady go every year and it’s magical. It’s not attached to any specific religion – it’s simply about sharing Advent as a local community.
This year’s beach hut theme was angels and the lady who owned the beach hut was called Mary (seriously, it was her real name!).
Anyway, this year Mary and her friends were giving out small boxes for people to fill with gifts for the homeless.
They even had little print outs of suggested items to include, which homeless people actually wanted, Mary said. And she knew, because she’d actually taken the time to ask.
And that was that. My Little Lady flew into action like a true Samaritan.
Without any word of encouragement from me (to be honest I wanted to go home and watch The Big Bang Theory!) she marched off with her box and insisted we go to the supermarket ‘right now’ to get presents for the people without a home.
Oh and we needed to go home first (apparently) and get her Panda torch because a torch was on the list of recommended items.
It was at this point I realised I was not going to be home in time to watch Masterchef either.
And it was at this point that I had a bit of an Epiphany.
I’d become so preoccupied with instilling a sense of giving into My Little Lady, I’d missed how much it was already there.
Children love to give. When I was upset recently, my Little Lady gave me a plastic ring. The ring was worthless, but the intention priceless.
Until they learn to do otherwise, you see, children give with love, with compassion, with kindness and with faith.
57,750 Households Were Accepted As Homeless in England Last Year
According to Crisis UK, 57,750 households were accepted as homeless and in ‘priority need’ in 2015/16 in England alone.
Imagine what this translates to world wide.
I’m not saying any of this to be all holier than thou or make anyone feel guilty about buying an iPad this Christmas (I’ve written this on a Mac!) Or indeed use the unfortunate plight of others as an opportunity to teach my child a life lesson!
But I am saying that young children have a LOT of compassion inside them and we should nurture it.
And I’m also of course, saying that Christmas is a difficult time for many people.
So we’ll be paying it forward a little this Christmas and packing some boxes for people less fortunate than us.
If you feel inspired to do the same, here’s what we’ll be putting in:
Our Pay It Forward Christmas Box
- Small wind up torch
- Christmas card, envelope and stamp
- Small sweet treat
- Wet wipes
- Hand warmers
- Pair of warm socks
- Pair of gloves
- Small christmas decoration
- Small pack of cards or puzzle book.