Sunday Post 150: Teach Them Well

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.


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  1. Mel Ham

     /  December 29, 2013

    it rings true and started a conversation with us too. Tradition. How hard Mae and Gaga work to make traditions for our family. The games we play, the gifts we give the outward generous help to our other families outside of ours. The shoes are big to fill. I want to continue all of these traditions so that I don’t hear I remember when we used to do that. I want them to have memories but not due to the fact we backslide in carrying on the traditions. There are so many special things and special recipes it will take the entire family to carry all of these out and on. Love much Mel

  2. Growing up our family always spent Thanksgiving helping out at the local shelter that was short handed due to everyone wanting to spend time with their families. It was a wonderful tradition that I cherish.

  3. Alma Cutler

     /  December 29, 2013

    Bruce, just like you, your parents are wonderful folks and I know you and the rest of the family will be able to carry on this tradition. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU AND THE GIRLS.

  4. Pretty big shoes to fill for sure. That’s a good idea for a tradition w/ my son 👍

  5. Celia

     /  December 30, 2013

    What a nice tradition and a teachable moment. We also have gotten gifts of Heifer Project donations (llamas, chickens, etc.) but it was sort of abstract for the girls. Lovely idea.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  January 3, 2014

      tough for them to really grasp, and yet, questions followed – that’s a good sign!

  6. So glad I stumbled on your blog today … What a great way to raise compassionate children! Blessings, Heidi

    • Danny Tanner

       /  January 3, 2014

      Thank you for reading. Sometimes I see some compassion in them, sometimes not so much!


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