(This post may contain affiliate links, for which we earn a small commission at no additional expense to you. You can read our affiliate policy here.)
We don’t buy Christmas presents for our girls. They get plenty of gifts from grandparents, aunts & uncles, etc that we don’t feel the need to add to the excessive amounts of toys and clothes they already have. They do get a stocking from Santa, but it contains necessities, books and little toys or crafts. Instead of presents from us under the tree, each girl helps with packing a Christmas shoebox for Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan’s Purse). Their Christmas present from us is learning the joy of giving.
This year we went shopping for items to fill the shoebox. Shopping with a 3 & 5 year old, in the toy aisle, is always an adventure! Both girls picked out a little stuffed animal to put in their box, and the whole way home Calais talked about playing with her new doggy. I attempted to have a conversation with her about how lots of little girls around the world don’t have any toys. That what we bought might be this girl’s only Christmas present this year.
Calais was quiet for a minute.
I thought I got the point across.
Then she piped up “and next time we go to the store then we can get a little doggy for me because I won’t have one after I give this one away.” At least she’s logical.
To my surprise, as soon as we walked in the door, she went running to the kitchen and put the little doggy in the shoebox very excitedly. I’ll call it a win this time, but it got me thinking about my kid’s understanding of the world around us.
I want my girls to grow up aware of what they have, and understand that not everyone has as much as they do. For us, this is where travelling comes in. Talking about it can only go so far. How does one teach their child perspective so that it becomes deeply entrenched in their being? Show it to them.
Volunteer in an orphanage, stay at a homestay to better experience daily life, or simply walk through the streets of a developing nation and see the poverty all around.
We’re putting ourselves to the test for the first time this Christmas.
In a few days we’re heading to Honduras. We’ll spend a week on the beach over Christmas, relaxing and truly vacationing. The other time will be spent travelling around the mainland. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a connection giving us the opportunity to spend three or four nights with a young family in a small village. This will be our girls’ first real introduction to rural life in a developing country. It’s an “ease into it” introduction as it won’t be the stark poverty that can be found in India and Africa. It will be a family with girls’ similar ages to Calais & Kacela, who have significantly less. It will be interesting to see the conversations that we get out of them.
Packing a shoe-box is a great reminder for us to help out those less fortunate.
Visiting those who are less fortunate and personally bringing gifts or spending time with them will foster a true understanding of what “less fortunate” really means.
Over the next few years we have plans to continue a travel trend of visiting developing nations to push us out of our comfort zones and provide our girls with a truly global view of the world.
How do you help your child develop an understanding of “have” and “have not”?