I’ll let Rachel’s beautiful "hack" speak for itself:
I don’t know if this really counts as a “hack,” but the post about the child who hoards her toys made me think about something we do in our family, and I wanted to share it. It’s really simple, and sounds a little goody-goody, but it’s really gone a long way in helping our kids feel (and not just know) that “it’s not all about them” and how fortunate they are compared with most of the rest of the world.
Since pretty much everyone they play with has as much or more than they do, it takes a little effort, but here’s what we do: We have “adopted” kids each of our kids’ ages from relief organizations. So, our four year old boy has a four year old boy, and our 6 year old girl has another 6 year old girl. We’ve made them a big part of the “adoption” – praying for them, picking out and sending them gifts, writing them notes, learning about their countries and how they live, etc. We keep their pictures on the refrigerator so that they can have a constant reminder of their “friends.” [To find out more about how to sponsor a child, visit Savethechildren.org. — Ed.]
Similarly, at Christmas we get children our kids’ ages from the “angel tree.” We go Christmas shopping for the kids who otherwise wouldn’t be having Christmas, and I have my kids pick out the toys for them. (I think there are several organizations like this out there.) We also have them pick out a toy to give to the Marines Toys for Tots at Christmas.
While we do these things, I gently remind them how fortunate they are that they can have so much, when so many don’t have anything. I’m careful not to lecture or preach about it, but just kind of lightly bring it up and ask them questions that make them put themselves in the place of these children.
Again, I know it sounds very simplistic, but it has transformed our children and how they view not only their things, but also their place in the world – getting them out of themselves. It takes a little work to keep it in the forefront, but it’s worth it.
It also has the side effect of making ME more grateful and practice what I preach. We don’t have all that much compared to other people around us, so it’s not like we have extra money just floating around. But, we certainly have much, much more that the families we help, and that helps put things in perspective. Am I really aware of how lucky I am compared with most of the rest of the world? Am I going to CHOOSE to be content with what I have and not buy into the lie that I NEED all the things people say I do? It really is challenging. And it teaches my children a lesson that will go with them the rest of their lives, hopefully.
I really hope this helps a family who hasn’t thought about doing something like this before! It will change your family if you make it an important part of your lives. I know that we can’t be the only ones who do things like this, though, and so I’d also love to hear what other families do out there. It would be great to have more ideas of how to help us keep things “in perspective!”
How are you keeping things in perspective this holiday season?