Today marks the official start of the Christmas holiday season. With the frenzied rush to buy gifts, attend company functions, family gatherings, and church programs, we can feel harried, and wonder if there’s any meaning left in the season.
But, in 2010, through an article I wrote for Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine, I explored ways we can make a difference. Opportunities to find a deeper meaning for our existence, and help others along the way.
Spark your holiday spirit through the link to, or copy of, my article below. After all, meaning is where you make it.
by Anita Agers Brooks
We tiptoed up the steps, onto the porch, and gently laid down the goodies: canned vegetables, a frozen turkey and various foods all packaged in a laundry basket. Another “secret basket” contained presents.
My 6-year-old son, Ryan, whispered, “Mommy, do you think they’ll like the presents?”
“Of course they will,” I whispered back.
The wooden steps creaked when we descended and ran back to the car.
Breathless and giddy, my son asked, “Do you think they’ll know we did it?”
“I hope not, because Matthew 6 says, ‘When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.’ ”
Never underestimate the value of modeling selfless giving. Providing opportunities for your children to see you give to others will help them to get excited about generosity. Kids of all ages can learn to give anonymously, but don’t expect them to be involved beyond what they’re capable of developmentally. Secret baskets are a great place to start. Set your sights on someone with a financial, physical, emotional or spiritual need, and anonymously gift them useful items with a note of encouragement attached.
Here are more ideas for encouraging generosity in your kids, whatever their age:
Preschool children can learn to give within the confines of family. Teach them to sneak a yummy food treat onto the plate of a loved one. Help them hide a piece of wrapped candy in someone’s lunchbox. “Shhh, don’t tell” is something they will understand. As they do secretive things that make others happy, they will soon discover that sharing is fun.
Let your child help you shop for items and package them with prayers and Scriptures tucked inside. Ask local hospitals or nursing homes to distribute them anonymously to those who are sick and lonely.
Make handcrafted cards with your tween. Mail them without revealing the sender’s identity. A hopeful message lifts the spirits of someone who needs to hear God cares.
You can also encourage your tween to leave unsigned gratitude notes on restaurant tables and store counters. Is there a greater gift than to tell someone that his or her hard work is noticed?
Teens have youthful energy to invest. When an elderly or sick neighbor runs errands or goes to the doctor, ask your teenager to mow the neighbor’s lawn, shovel snow or wash his windows. An anonymous message of God’s love, tucked behind the neighbor’s screen door, will brighten the day for both the giver and recipient.
As teens begin to earn their own money, they can spread joy by secretly giving small gifts to strangers. Suggest that your teen purchase a movie ticket for the third person back or leave a dollar with the store clerk, toward the water, soda or coffee of the next customer who comes in.
Secret gifts teach children to help those in need. Any occasion is a good time to surprise someone with the love of Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 2010 by Anita Agers-Brooks. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business and Inspirational Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Productivity Specialist, Certified Team Training Facilitator, Marketing Specialist, national speaker, and author of the soon-to-be released book, First Hired, Last Fired — How to Become Irreplaceable in Any Job Market.
She’s a member of the Christian Writer’s Guild, client of WordServe Literary Group, graduate of CLASS for Leaders, Speakers, and Authors, a co-founder of The StoryWriting Studio, and speaker on circuit for Stonecroft International Ministries.
Anita’s passionate about business with integrity, healthy relationships, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences and research. She believes it’s never too late for a fresh start with fresh faith. Anita lives in Missouri with her husband Ricky.