I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this time of year is when all the charities pull out all the stops. I mean, no one wants for anyone to go without on Christmas, not if it can be helped. So there are toy drives and food drives and clothing drives and flat-out money drives, all the time. It’s hard to know where to draw the line sometimes.
I admit I feel a fair share of guilt about not doing more than I actually do. And on the flip side, I feel guilty about reappropriating some of the household money in order to give to someone. And I feel guilty about being guilty. See? I’m on my way to being a Good Catholic.
The truth is, we have a lot. Not as much as some, but we have jobs and a roof over our heads and food in the fridge, and we have the wherewithal to purchase clothing and whatnot so that we don’t go naked into the world. And yes, our wants outstrip our income a lot of the time, and we have to keep a tight rein on the budget a lot of the time, but the fact of the matter is, we have what we need and a good many of the things we want.
I have always been very careful, from Day One, about giving to others within sight of my child. As soon as Spawn was old enough to understand, I’ve let the kid witness me giving food to food drives and gifts to Angel Tree kids and money to the Salvation Army’s red kettles. And as soon as Spawn was old enough to participate, I’ve enlisted the kid’s help.
Of course in a Catholic school there is a great deal of emphasis on the Seven Works of Mercy, not just at Christmas but all year round. It’s nice to have backup in this parenting endeavor, because a lot of times kids tend to discount what their parents do as weird or out of touch, and the school tends to parallel the things I’ve tried to teach Spawn all along. Makes me seem a little less weird, at least for the moment.
The school does service projects throughout the year, both at grade level and through the various clubs and organizations. Each year at Christmas the whole school does a large service project, where they collect warm mittens/gloves and hats and toys as well as money for distribution to needy folks. The whole idea of the project is to have the kids learn the value of giving to others out of their own pockets, and not relying on others to do it for them.
The other day, Spawn came to me with a stack of quarters and asked me for a sack.
“What do you need it for?”
“I’m going to take it to school.”
“To give to the Christmas project.”
“Oh.” (Momentary lapse of memory on Mom’s part.) “Ok, go into the kitchen and get a ziplock.”
Spawn has been collecting state quarters for a while now, refusing to spend them. Thus far the kid had saved 18 of them. And now they’re going toward making Christmas a bit better for someone else.
I love that kid.
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