Have you ever played the game, “If I had a million dollars”? Not just a popular song in the 90s by a band called BNL. But instead, an opportunity to practice generous thinking. Well, at least that is how my husband and I played it back when we were very poor seminary students. We used to name people, churches and organizations we would give to. Of course, there would be some real estate purchases and a few vehicles but there were those people and ministries that were near and dear to our hearts. We did give of what we could but to do more was a dream.
I think I developed a sense of generosity from my parents, especially my mother. She was always wanting to buy gifts for people. And during those slim times in seminary she gave to us and our children. I too, LOVE to give gifts. Some of it is the thrill of the hunt and some knowing what that perfect sentiment is. My family growing up has always had this secret competition or shall we say competence in great gift giving. It does not have to be expensive and it is never over the top but it is personal and unique to the receiver.
I pray that my own children develop a generous life. And a kind life. So, to help foster a generous and kind mindset, we have set out to do a few things this Advent season.
First we developed an Advent Calendar we call Random Acts of Advent Kindness. When I was searching Pinterest for Advent ideas, I found something from coffeecupsandcrayons.com. The site listed different ideas for everyday to show kindness. After brainstorming some ideas and finding inspiration from the site, we developed our own. Our children are thrilled with it, even the 14 year old likes finding out what each day is. All we did was cut playing cards vertically, clued paper to the back to write the acts on and then embellished. I found the tin holder at Michael’s Craft Store. So far, we have written cards to the military, thank you notes, mailed hugs, took cookies to the fire house and smiled a lot.
Other ways we are working to foster generosity and kindness is through the Angel Giving Tree at church and donations to their favorite charities. We pick from the Angel Tree one tag for each of our kids a child similar to their age and then go as a family to pick out a toy. I think if they are of the same age and interests, it makes the experience more personal and relate-able.
So far, so good. I think my kids get it. If you are able, give back. If you can’t do it with money and physical gifts, then there are many acts of kindness that may cost little to no money but have a big impact. Have them compliment their teachers, write thank yous to important people in their lives, smile at their friends. There is also volunteering of your time. There are many churches and organizations that need the extra helping hands, especially this time of year.
The willingness to serve, give and be kind is the type of force our world needs to make it a better place.