My family is blessed with so much. We are able to enjoy love, friendship, amazing family, opportunities to see the world, and material things. We are happy in our lovely warm home and with the various "things" that we use in life. We are comfortable and I am quite thankful.
My children are inundated with Christmas gifts because we have a large family when you count both sides. Each and every year, I have found joy in watching Amelia's face as she unwraps her surprises but I also cringe a little at the sheer quantity of it all.
That's why I insist we give back - and her participation is required. If you have the means to do for others this season, I urge you to do so. The holidays aren't about getting and we should remind our kids of that as often as we can.
Before she is allowed to receive holiday gifts, we do a purge of the playroom. Toys that are in good shape that she no longer uses go Goodwill, to help other families who need holiday gifts but may not be able to afford brand-new. We make space for Amelia's incoming items and we hopefully give someone out there a little bit of a break on their gift list completion.
For the past seven years, I also allot a chunk of money to purchase new toys for donation. Some years it has been Toys For Tots, other years the children's hospital. I think we will do Children's Healthcare of Atlanta again this year. It is a good outing for Amelia because she can wheel the gifts into the building in one of their little red wagons and physically hand them over at the front desk (she has helped me to unload toys into the Toys For Tots bin in the past as well).
It is sometimes a challenge for a child to pick out toy after toy after toy at the store and to hear repeatedly, "now remember, none of this is for you." But it is a lesson that I feel is important. She needs to understand that we have a lot and we are not in need, but many children are much less fortunate. They may be hurting, sick, alone, or homeless. They may never see a Christmas present. Therefore, because we can, it is our responsibility to give back. It is our thankful family tradition.
We purchased our donation toys today, and I look forward to our entire family stopping by CHOA very soon. Hopefully this little bit can bring a lot of holiday cheer!
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Note: If you choose to donate to a children's hospital, be sure to check their rules for in-kind donations. There are likely restrictions on what may be donated.