Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Traditions #3 {It is More Blessed to Give than to Receive}

Good Morning & Merry Christmas, Friends and Family! I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying the Christmas Season. As I have mentioned before, this time of year is excessively busy for me and this year has been no exception. I've found that I've had to let my weekly blog posts fall to the back burner just so I can keep up with everything else going on :(.

But now that I am OFFICIALLY on Christmas Vacation, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things! Starting right now with my 3rd installment of the Holiday Traditions Series.

As a child, I was privileged to attend a private, Christian school, New Life Christian Academy, which was associated with the church I was raised in. In addition to a top notch education, I also received LOTS of positive reinforcement and Biblical teachings. I was expected to memorize Scriptures at least on a weekly basis. At the time, I'm not sure I really appreciated that. But now, I wouldn't trade that upbringing for the world. These Scriptures have stuck with me over the years and have helped shape me into the person I am today.

One such Scripture is Acts 20:35b "...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" This verse speaks to me particularly at Holiday times when there is an abundance of giving giving and receiving. From a child's perspective, there is nothing better than waking early on Christmas morning and rushing into the living to find a sea of gifts spreading out from under the tree and knowing, "Most of those are MINE!" I'll admit, I was one of "those kids". But as I grew up, I also found a great deal of pleasure in giving gifts and seeing the reactions of those I have given to. 

As I've mentioned numerous times in the past, I currently work in childcare and have for the past several years. Unfortunately the children I am involved with do not attend private, Christian schools like I did and therefore, do not have the opportunity to learn Biblical principles in that environment. So I suppose you could say that I've taken it upon myself to pick up the slack. At the beginning of the Christmas Season, I have made it a tradition to instill the principle of "It is more blessed to give than to receive" in the lives of the children I come in contact with on a daily basis. One way I have attempted to do this is through the Children's Home Wish List program.

Here in Central Illinois, we have a marvelous institution called the Children's Home. 

They are responsible for finding caring foster families for children in crisis and even housing children on their premises if necessary. Every Christmas they feature the Wish List program. Basically every child under their care and protection are available for "gift adoption". Meaning that a Wish List of their needs and wants is cataloged and made available to anyone in the general public who is willing to give. 

For the past several years, I have contacted the Children's Home and requested two Wish Lists and then, as a class, my little children and I have pooled our funds together and purchased a few of the gifts off of the Wish Lists. When I do this, I send a note home to the parents telling them exactly what I have in mind and requesting no more than $2 from each child (of course, I personally contribute too!). Furthermore, I request that the parents find a way to have the child EARN the money that they will give (to give the child the true sense of being apart). I usually set a deadline for when the money should be turned in, and then that day arrives, I take the funds and purchase the items from the Wish Lists.

I try to focus on the items the children need rather than just what they want. I realize this might not be much fun for the child, but in my mind needs always outweigh wants. In this particular case, the boy and girl were in need of long-sleeved shirts. So naturally, that's what I bought instead of the zebra rug the girl wanted and the bay blades the boy wanted. I brought the purchased items back to TJ with me so the kids could see what their dollars had purchased. Then I took them and delivered them to the Children's Home.

Every year when I do this, as I'm walking back down the steps of the Children's Home, I think to myself, "This. This is Christmas."