This year we did things a little differently to help get our son in the mood of giving over receiving.  In a two week period, we saw the Little Prince opera, A Christmas Carol play, The Nutcracker ballet, and A Charlie Brown Christmas play.  We definitely used a perk of homeschooling by taking advantage of student matinees.  I have to admit, the use of theatre performances for teaching about kindness and generosity was wonderful.  My son loved all of the shows and after each one, we had wonderful discussions on the true meaning of Christmas as well as all of the other holidays of this time.  These performances all moved him in a different way.  He enjoyed every single one of them and left each performance knowing the importance of kindness.  We also discussed that although this time of the year it is given extra emphasis, we really should be kind and giving throughout the year.

In addition to using theatre, this year I put our son in charge of finding the gifts for the giving tree, the homeless children, and refugee children.  Typically we just did the giving tree and the homeless children but given the current events a mom in our homeschool group reached out to the Refugee Service Center in Houston.  When explained to my son, he agreed we needed to add them to our list.  We chose to sponsor two of their children.  And, my son helped pick out 20 books for the refugee children’s after school program in addition to 20 books for the homeless children.  For the giving tree, it is not the picking of a child per se but bringing in gifts.  I have to admit the personal aspect of knowing a specific age of a child from the Refuge Center and their circumstances meant more to my son than the vague giving to the nameless and faceless Giving Tree.   In addition, we got to see the children from the Refugee Service Center as pictures were taken during the exchange and shared with our group.  And, the refugee children are encouraged to write back to our kids.  He absolutely loved seeing the happy faces of the refugee children with their wagon of presents from our homeschool group.  We discussed it and from here on, we will be including the refugee children with our annual holiday giving.  Furthermore, we will be making ongoing donations of the clothes he outgrows and books he is done with throughout the year.  Giving him ownership of this yearly project made a more powerful impression.

Lastly, we discussed the giving and kindness themes of other winter holidays.  In fact, there are a lot more winter holidays than most people are even aware of.  Here is a list of some of the ones we found:

  • Advent
  • Bodhi Day
  • Hanukkah
  • St. Nicholas Day
  • Winter Solstice
  • St. Lucia Day
  • Yule
  • Las Posadas
  • Mawlid Un Nabi
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • Kwanzaa
  • The Feast of St. John
  • New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Day
  • St. Basil’s Day
  • Epiphany
  • Three Kings Day
  • Chinese New Year (this year it is year of the monkey)
  • Omisoka
  • Festivus
  • Boxing Day
  • St. Stephen’s
  • Pancha Ganapati
  • Saturnalia

And I’ll end this blog with giving quotes:

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” Aesop

“If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.” Buddha

“It’s NOT how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

“For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis of Assisi

“Kindness in words creates confidence.  Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.  Kindness in giving creates love.”  Lao Tzu

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus from Acts 20:35