The Joy of Giving

My children have mastered with great success the joy of getting. Whether it is a birthday party or a trip to the store, they have quite a bit of freedom of choice. They choose their snacks, vote on meals and certainly have strong opinions on the gifts they would like to receive. Since they know nothing else, they do not realize that other people may not have as many choices available. The more challenging aspect of parenting, for me, is to strengthen a generous spirit. As with everything it is teaching by example and I can only hope to show my children the same generous nature my parents showed to me. Since I am not the perfect example of parenting, sometimes life presents the opportunity to help me make giving tangible.

The Joy of Giving Party’s whole purpose is to foster altruism in children in the hopes that cultivating an unselfish behavior when young will inspire such behavior as adults. Each family is asked to bring an unwrapped gift (new or used) that has real meaning to the child.

My children are generous. Really they are. They hold doors open, make cards for the sick, clean snow off cars and are eager to walk the neighbor’s dog. All that said when it comes to their belongings they hold on with a white-knuckled death grip. I ask them to take a look through their rooms for a used gift that we could bring to the Joy of Giving party on Saturday. The first round of giving at our house yields a crushed puzzle box, a part of a game and a doll in need of hospice. Not that these items aren’t destined for a different home, just most likely the transfer station.

We do a family sit-down and discuss how it would feel if they didn’t have any toys, if everything had been lost or if someone gave them the toys they had just picked out. Perhaps they could go back to their rooms and look with eyes that want to share a toy they could give with pride. Could they come up with anything to contribute with that in mind?

Horse-drawn sleigh rides; elves, stories and music are just a few added attractions to the Saturday event. My children are on round two of the “giving” process. They have culled out the valuables and are now willing to look at the rest. As with all of us, giving gets easier the more we do it.

The Joy of Giving party is this Saturday, Dec 13, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Paul Smith’s College Forestry Cabin. At this time the recipient of the Innovative Altruism Award will be honored as well. I am told to just follow the signs of JOY. Literally, follow the signs marked “Joy.”


Anonymous said…
Thanks for a great write-up Diane.And for being a great contributor to involving children and families in healthy lifestyles!
The cat in the hat ;-)

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