Teaching children the joyous blessing of giving to others

“And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35

There is no doubt that giving gifts can be much more fun than receiving gifts. It is tempting to think that all children simply want toys for Christmas and that they are too young to understand that giving is better than getting. This is simply not true. If they don’t learn as children, they will grow up always wanting things for self pleasure rather than thinking of pleasing others.

Our children gave my husband and me some pretty surprising things. On one occasion, they went together and bought their dad a cap with an alligator on top of it. They later enjoyed putting cheerios in the mouth of the alligator as he wore the cap around.

One Christmas, our youngest son made me a gumball machine in school. For a week before Christmas, he kept trying to get me to beg him to open his gift early. He couldn’t wait to surprise me with the gift he had made. That same year, the children bought their dad a plastic apron with battery-operated lights that lit up a Christmas tree on the front of the apron. He wore that apron each Christmas for years. Each year there were giggles of joy seeing their dad wearing that apron.

The best surprise of all for my husband and me was the year we sneaked downstairs in the middle of the night to fill the four stockings that our children had hung, thinking that they had no clue as to what we were doing. The next morning, when we all went to see the gifts in the stockings, there were two extra stockings hanging by the fireplace! The children had put up stockings for their dad and me and placed gifts in them! The children were delighted to see our surprise and to know how much we appreciated being remembered.

When children learn to give, they benefit from learning to appreciate others. They enhance their feelings of compassion as they think of the needs of others. Giving fosters an unselfish attitude. If parents will sit down with children and discuss a list of persons to whom they want to give a gift, the children are also learning to appreciate efforts made in their behalf.

We have heard the expression, “Christmas is for Children.” The expression carries with it the idea that children should be lavished with toys and pleasantries and everyone else should sit back and receive their joy from watching the children. Not so! Christmas is a time to reflect on the greatest gift of all, Christ Jesus. As we tell our children about this great gift, we should emphasize the love and sacrifice involved from which we pattern the custom of gift-giving.

It is a great deception that tells us, “Let children be children and wait until they are grown to try to teach them to give.” When we subscribe to this policy, we cheat our children of a greater blessing.