21 December 2008

Giving Is Getting

You know me and my issues with Christmas. I'm probably going to pass those neurotic tendencies onto my children. Cool.

Sooo...one thing I grapple with is promoting the idea of selfless giving with my children. For the past few years, we've done the Giving Tree at Walmart. The kids would pick a stocking, and purchase the items listed for the child. They enjoyed the shopping, but they never saw the reaction of the person who received it. To me, that's an important part of the whole experience...seeing the results of your giving.

This year, Brent did not want to give to the Walmart tree. I think this might have been due to an experience we had last year. Last year, most of the stocking tags listed items like socks, underwear, etc. However, more and more, there were tags that listed things like "PlayStation 2 games." The "needy" line had been blurred - since when did needy mean "in need of PlayStation games?" We felt disillusioned, for sure.

However, we weren't going to stop giving. So this year, we signed up for the Salvation Army bell ringing. For one hour yesterday, the five of us stood in the snow and cold, ringing the bell for the needy and greeting all kinds of holiday shoppers as they meandered in and out of the Walmart SuperCenter.

The lesson I hoped we all learned: Giving transcends all races, socioeconomic background, walks of life. We saw well-dressed and stylish people who passed us without a glance. Another gentleman not wearing a coat and who looked as if he might have been a burn victim stopped to drop in a couple of dollars.

It is disconcerting in some ways to see the amount of people shopping at Walmart, pushing heavily-laden carts of toys and food, and yet they can't or don't spare a little for people who really are in need. However, there are people who give - and that's what I wanted my kids to see.

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