You always try to teach your kids good stuff. Sometimes I think I focus more on making sure that they know the proper way to use me and I in a sentence than to ensure that they understand the importance of loving their neighbor.
On Christmas, I worry about the same thing. I know of families who forego presents and instead take a mission trip. Others choose to make a significant contribution to a charity or serve lunch at a shelter on Christmas day. We just eat like hogs and give each other an exorbitant number of presents, many of which we don’t really need.
I think my parents realize how we indulge on this day and that we really should have a different sort of focus. So each year, after we’ve opened our presents and before we stuff our faces, they sit the family down at the dinner table. As our stomachs rumble and the smell of turkey wafts through the air, we pause to listen.
Being a minister, my dad has always been able to share a sermonette off the cuff. And that’s exactly what he does.
In front of your plate you’ll see an envelope with your name on it. Your mother and I have decided to support several charities across the world in your honor. There are a ton of folks out there who don’t have the ability to give a single gift at Christmas. There are many who don’t have food to eat, and yet, look at us. I’d like for you to read your card to the family.
Each of us, from age 11 to 75, reads and shares the story of someone in need throughout the world and how my parents have chosen to support them.
They aren’t sharing this information to say look what we’ve done. They’re sharing the information to help teach the next generation that it isn’t all about us. They share to teach us and remind us that we are incredibly fortunate and that we should be thankful.
It’s not a guilt trip – my mom and dad would be the first to tell you they indulge their children and grandchildren as much as any other proud grandparents. But they take their job of passing down their passion for loving their neighbors to those who will soon follow in their footsteps.
I guess one day I’m going to be the one holding that torch. I should start now – pretty big shoes to fill.