Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.
If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!
Guest Post by Angi from SchneiderPeeps
With Christmas just around the corner I have been thinking about not only giving but receiving. Many moms have said that they want their children to realize that this holiday season is about giving not getting. And I totally agree with that.
But I’ve been thinking that part of giving is receiving, not in the sense that if I give you something then you have to give me something, because giving is not necessarily reciprocal. Rather, I’ve been thinking about the fact that if everyone is giving — which most people are this time of year — then someone is receiving. Most likely those “someones” are our children.
My children are wonderful givers, I have seen my son (10 at the time) give his only coat to another boy who was “needier” than my son was and my children are always wanting to make something to give to someone. They truly get joy out of giving.
However, we also want our children to be wonderful receivers. Not just to say “thank you” and write a thank you note (although those things are important), but we want them to feel great joy when receiving a gift, just like they do when they give. We don’t want them to feel guilty or unworthy when they receive a gift (or a compliment), to feel like they need to reciprocate, or to feel that any “strings” are attached.
What We Want Our Children to Understand About Receiving a Gift:
- We want them to see that it is God who provides for us and if someone gives us a gift, we should be thankful to God, first and foremost.
- We want them to treasure the gift and more importantly the giver.
- We want them to see the giver’s heart and not just look at the gift.
- We want them to realize that no one “has” to give them a gift but that they want to give the gift.
- We want our children to feel special when they receive a gift.
No Hard and Fast Rules For Our Gift-Giving
We don’t have any hard and fast rules about the gifts that we give to our children. We just kind of take each year as it comes. Some years we’ve done family gifts, some years we’ve done individual gifts.
We also don’t have any rules about what others give our children (other than common sense appropriate stuff but most people who give gifts to our children know what we value and are respectful of that). Part of this is that we don’t want our children to have an entitlement mindset when it comes to gifts. We also don’t want them to be disappointed that they didn’t get a certain item. If there’s no expectations then there’s no (or at least not much) disappointment.
I asked my boys and they said that they are happy with the way we handle our gift-giving toward them. They like being surprised. They like that we get to have a holiday where there’s no gift giving stress in our home. They have also seen that the things that were so very important for their friends to have wind up in garage sales a year or so down the road.
What We Teach From New Year’s to Thanksgiving is What Matters Most
I think this realization is so important to make the leap from the gift being about the item to the gift being about the person giving it. This idea of being a gracious receiver may be one of the best gifts you can give your children.
It will also help them be content with the things that they already have and the things they are given. It can help them to not look and compare what God has given others to what God has given them. It can also help them learn to be happy, not envious, of their friends when their friends receive more than them.
So while I know that this time of year can breed ungratefulness and greed, I am going to make a conscious effort to help my children learn to be gracious receivers, by enjoying what God has provided for them through others.
I also think that it is not necessarily all that important what we try to teach our children about giving and receiving from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. It’s what we teach them from New Year’s to Thanksgiving that will make the greatest impact.
Angi is a pastor’s wife and mom of 6 children who spends her days homeschooling, crafting, gardening, playing chauffeur, keeping chickens, trying to learn how take better pictures and blogging at SchneiderPeeps.