“I wish we could get a cow,” I heard my son say from the living room. “What?” I responded, not sure I had heard him right. I turned off the water at the sink where I stood washing dishes. “A cow costs too much. But we could get chickens.” He held up the World Vision gift catalog for me to see. “Oh. Yes, a cow is much more than you guys have saved” I said, thankful that he didn’t actually want a cow of his own. Each year my boys save their change and then buy a present for Jesus. Last year, they filled out this printable I found online, a letter to Jesus, telling him that they wanted to save their money to help the least of these. We recently counted up the money they saved over this year and talked about how they wanted to use it. My son found the World Vision gift catalog that had just come in the mail and browsed through all the ways they could help those in need. I also told them about an opportunity we had to join friend’s of our ours who recently moved to Nicaragua in reaching out to the poor in their small coastal village. In the end, the boys chose to divide their money between chickens and helping provide for needs in a remote Nicaraguan village. This time of year can be hard for children to keep their hearts focused on others. They are bombarded with commercials and ads telling them they need the latest toys and gadgets. Soon, they forget that it is Christ we are celebrating and not ourselves. Developing family traditions that involve intentional giving to those in need can help turn our children’s focus from themselves to others. In our family, it is something we talk about all year as my children fill their special money jar for giving at Christmas time. We also put together a shoebox filled with toys and necessesities for Samaritan’s Purse to give to a child in need. On December 6, we like to pretend to be St. Nicholas (December 6 is traditionally St. Nicholas Day) and fill stockings with needed items and give them to a shelter or some ministry that serves those in need. We receive catalogs from a number of ministries that serve those in need around the world. I like to leave those lying around so that we will browse through them (maybe instead of toy catalogs!) and be thinking about what we can buy for someone else. Truly, the options for giving are endless. Here are a few more thoughts and ideas on giving: 1. Shop ministry catalogs together as a family: Compassion, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Blood Water Mission. They give opportunities to purchase medicine, access to water, animals, education and more. 2. Sponsor a child together as a family through Compassion or World Vision. 3. Participate in an Angel Tree gift giving event. 4. Donate to a missionary or ministry organization as a family. 5. If money is tight, donate time instead. There are many ministries that need able bodies and hands to do the work it takes to serve those in need. Or offer to help do yard work, house repairs or some other job for an elderly or sick person that you know. 6. Donate gently used toys and books to a local ministry. Have your children go through what they don’t use anymore and take them to a ministry that will give them to children in need. 7. Bake cookies or some other treat and take them to a shut in, nursing home, or to a lonely neighbor. 8. There’s a cute little book for young ones called Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time where children in a classroom share with one another the Biblical reasons for giving to others.*
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