We realized quickly that if we don't do things the right way, Eliza will get the wrong idea about this time of year. A week full of gifts from friends, family and Santa all for her birthday and Christmas. She must be one special girl. I don't want her to get less than her friends or sibling(s) because of when her birthday is, but she needs to know that isn't what this time of year is really about.
We decided each year around this time we need to make sure she gives back to families in need. We need to remind her how fortunate she is that we are able to provide her with these things. Where we live it is not obvious there are people who are less fortunate. We don't have a shelter or soup kitchen, there aren't homeless people asking for money or sleeping on the sidewalks. She doesn't know this exists. I don't want to throw her into it, I won't be taking her to skid row or anything, just somewhere she can realize there are others that are in need.
Last year, she was just turning 1 and didn't understand what her birthday or Christmas meant. I picked a charity called Project Night Night. I asked for friends and family to donate books, blankets, and stuffed animals for this project. As a new mother I could not imagine having to have her in a shelter and moving around constantly. I felt helping the children that lived that life was what was best at that time.
This year I did something she could understand a bit more. At our local Walmart they had a tree in their lobby with gift tags hanging from it. You could pick a tag and purchase the gift a child had asked for. I allowed Eliza to pick a tag from the tree for a child.
Eliza picked a little 11 year old boy that was asking for a Wimpy Kid book. I loved that this child asked for a book instead of a toy. It also saddened me that his family wasn't able to provide him with such a "simple" thing. I purchased the book set for this little guy but the money came out of Eliza's bank account. Again, I know she doesn't understand it now, but I want her to know in 10 years SHE has been the one always doing this, not mommy doing it for her.
We dropped the books off at our local Salvation Army and I explained to Eliza all about the little boy that needed our help. She didn't understand, and I know that, but one day she will.
Who knows where we will take her next year. Maybe we will collect coats for kids in need, or blankets for the homeless. Serve food to Vets or collect money for a well in Africa. Go through her toys and donate what she doesn't play with anymore.
All I do know is, our child is blessed, we are blessed, and our heavenly father tells us
"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”