When Families Give Together

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Commercials, window displays, newspaper inserts, catalogs and radio spots awaken in our kids an almost manic need to acquire.

As an “antitoxin” of sorts, we can model and inspire giving, whether it’s giving thanks, giving time, giving resources, or giving intangible gifts that have a deep and lasting impact on the recipients.

Give Thanks

Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience claims that giving thanks is joy medicine. She extends an open and ongoing invitation to count our blessings through the Gratitude Community of her One Thousand Gifts carnival.

This past Monday, Ann V. shared these words of John Henry Jowett: “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.”

When families give thanks together, they help vaccinate themselves against affluenza. We can invite our kids to develop a regular habit of giving thanks, helping to counteract the consumerism that slams into us this time of year.

Give Shoe Boxes

Our eight-year-old son recently overheard his older sisters discussing their Christmas wish lists. “I really don’t want much for Christmas,” he told me. “All I want for Christmas is an art kit … and love.”

“An art kit should be pretty easy to wrap,” I said, “but how will I wrap up a box of love?”

We laughed about it (and hugged), but Jennifer at Getting Down with Jesus and other bloggers like Barry Wallace have reminded us that love can indeed be wrapped up thanks to the Operation Christmas Child (collection countdown ends November 23).

Grab a shoe box. Help the kids shop for recommended items. Fill it with love. Wrap it up and drop it off at a collection location before Monday—it’s a simple, fun way to get kids tangibly giving.

Give Resources

Another way to give as families is to change the way we think about Christmas.

Amber at the run-a-muck announced the launch of Christmas Change this week, inviting readers to make a goal “to live sacrificially so you can give and teach your children to give, and by sharing and receiving ideas for living incarnationally.” Like Ann Voskamp’s Gratitude Community, this is yet another growing community of givers.

Individuals and families alike are invited to join in spending less and giving more to those in need, using our resources to spread good news to those in need. Christmas Change suggests that participants cut their Christmas spending by a portion, and share the difference with their particular charity.

One of our teens suggested a modest variation on this—during the Advent countdown, we could each place a dollar in a container daily so that by the end, on Christmas Day, we would have accumulated a nice little chunk to give.

It’s a start. It’s a very good start.

Give Intangibles

Along with the opportunity to give thanks, give shoeboxes to needy children, and give sacrificially of our resources, we can give some of the most powerful gifts that happen to be—like the love my son requested—“unwrappable.”

Mamie Pack at The Life I Now Live pointed this out in her post “Thanksgiving Has Presents.” Her four-year-old son came home from school announcing, “Mommy, we get presents at Thanksgiving.” At first she thought of correcting him. Then she gave it some thought and realized:

During this season, we have the opportunity of giving the gift of forgiveness to those who may have hurt or misused us. We have the opportunity to give the gift of love not just to those who are able to return such love but also even to our enemies. We have the opportunity to give the gift of a Godly example by showing our family, our friends, our coworkers the joy in serving Christ. We have the opportunity to give the gift of our time by helping out in our community or our church in service. Most importantly, we can take this season to share with others Christ.

Her son was right. Thanksgiving does indeed have presents, should we choose to give them ... the most powerful one being to share with others Christ.

And isn't that—isn't Jesus—what all this giving boils down to?

How does your family encourage giving?

How well has giving counteracted your family's hunger for acquisition?

Post written by Ann Kroeker of annkroeker.writer. and Not So Fast.

Photo by Ann Voskamp of Holy Experience. Used with permission.