Teaching the Spirit of Generosity over Christmas by Sunaina Narang

Christmas is a time we all look forward to – young and old. I remember being swept up by the spirit of Christmas as a child – the lights, festivities and the gifts; that warm fuzzy feeling of going to bed at night and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive bearing gifts. It is a time when families come together; it is that one time in the year when disputes are cast aside and a feeling of togetherness takes over. It is a time when families value each other and thank God for the love and support that they have in each other. It is that one time in the year where the spirit of generosity takes over and we buy gifts for those around us.

As parents, we want to recreate that excitement we felt as kids for our children. We encourage our kids to make a long list of what they want from Santa and make sure that they get exactly what they asked for. We take great pains to decorate trees, buy gifts and cook elaborate dinners. But what is most important for us to pass on to our kids is the real spirit of Christmas – the spirit of giving and sharing. As parents it is important for us to make our kids aware that there are those in our community that aren’t as privileged as we are. And that sharing our fortune with them is our privilege. This can be inculcated in kids very early – in fact the earlier the better. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be around Christmas. It’s just that this occasion provides the perfect backdrop for teaching our kids the spirit of sharing.

It can begin is a very small way by first sharing a biscuit with a hungry child on the street. Kids can then be encouraged to put aside a small portion of their pocket money to buy a small token – a colouring book and pencils or a small toy – for a child who could never afford it.

The best way in my opinion is to make Christmas special not just for our children but for as many kids as we can possibly afford to. Giving kids in an orphanage a little treat would be a perfect way to begin. And making your child an active participant is essential – right from choosing the gifts to distributing them. It will open our kids’ eyes to a whole new existence that they were not aware of, and will instil in them the spirit of giving and a sentiment of thankfulness for what they have.

Weaving bedtime stories with the theme of largesse will also make a mark on young minds. Stories of generosity – of people sharing with others when they have little for themselves; heart-warming stories of heroism, selflessness will also have the desired effect.

So let’s make Christmas an occasion not just to be spent with family. But a time when kids learn to not just think of themselves but of all those around us. A time to teach kids the joy in giving, in bringing someone else happiness – the biggest gift of all!