Having just left a memorial service for a baby that lived only five days in this world, I know I am coming at this piece from a serious place. But let’s face it, there’s a real seriousness that comes with raising kids. There’s a sense of responsibility to teach them truth and guide them on a path that will prepare them to navigate our crazy world. With Christmas, this is especially true.
Christmas is so much fun with kids. Like most of you, my husband and I love to shower our kids with gifts, as do their grandparents, but we also want our kids to know that it is the joy of celebrating the gift of Christ that is at the forefront and is the backdrop to this season of magical revelry. Moreover, it’s a bigger blessing to give than to receive. And because they’re toddlers, stuffed dolls, action figures, and talking toys can compete with our attempts to teach this lesson, which is why we are so thankful to Samaritan’s Purse for Operation Christmas Child.
Samaritan’s Purse is a nonprofit organization aimed at meeting the needs of impoverished people around the world while spreading the gospel. Come November, we take ordinary shoeboxes, decorate them, and fill them with gifts for boys and girls whose parents cannot afford to lavish them with presents. Our kids get really into the process.
We create a box for one girl and one boy; when we’re done, we start all over again until we are up against the collection deadline. We bust out paint and glitter glue, and the kids get to work.
Then, we head out on a shopping trip in search of what we think these children in need would like. We fill their boxes. Finally, we pay for shipping online, and get a special label to track the boxes. Our kids kindly dictate how the Christmas cards should read, and then we drop the boxes off at our local collection spot. Throughout the Christmas season, the conversations surrounding our boxes are so precious. We look at the globe and wonder where the boxes will go. We talk about different parts of the world and how people live. We get online and watch kids receiving boxes. This has been such a special tradition for us because as our kids get older, they understand this process more and more.
I know I’m not alone in trying to enjoy all the fun that the holidays have to offer while keeping the purpose at the center of the celebration. As a parent, I’d love to hear how you and your children give and spread love this time of year? As the Charlie Brown Christmas special reminds us, we must try to keep our focus on “the true meaning of Christmas.”