It is so important to my husband and me that we teach our boys the true meaning of Christmas. We go out of our way to avoid commercials or the unsolicited toy magazines that show up in our mailbox this time of year. We don’t even (gasp) ask our boys what they want for Christmas. It is very counter-cultural, but instead of indulging our boys in materialism and consumerism, we encourage giving and serving. We talk about what they want to get their family, brothers, neighbors, and friends. We also discuss the reality that there are many people that will not receive gifts under their tree because they cannot afford to do so. They can barely afford necessities. Our tradition started after an encounter with a homeless man.

While pulling up to our favorite restaurant one day, my two older boys noticed a tired, beat-down-by-life man sitting alone with all of his earthly possessions tightly packed into a bike trailer. Although they are only 6 and 4, my boys noticed that he looked disheveled and that his clothes were torn and dirty. It was the first time they had come face to face with the reality that not everyone lives like they do. Not everyone has a warm meal on their table, clean clothes to wear, and a cozy bed to sleep in at night. They were very somber the rest of the day; you could tell their little minds were trying to grasp the idea that the world can be a hard place. Up until this point, their greatest concern was where they were going to find their next bug. When we got home, they asked great questions like, “How does he get food?” “Where does he sleep?” “Mommy, how can we help him?”.

How can we help him?

This question spurred on a list of solutions. How precious it was to hear their concern and now action plan to help this man and others like him. Through their brainstorming of ideas we created “the giving jar”. The giving jar is a jar that the boys use to put in money that they raise either by doing some extra work around the house or helping friends and family members. We put the money they earn in it throughout the year. We place the jar in our kitchen so we can always see it and talk about its purpose while at the dinner table. The boys get so excited every time they put money in it. Then in the month of December we use the money to either give to a family or person in need or choose a child from the Angel Tree. This is what our conversations are about during December and throughout the year. How can we help others? How can we serve others? Who are we going to help? The excitement on their faces when it is time to give is the most beautiful thing to watch. They are excited not at what they are going to get but they are excited to love, to give, and to bless.

The true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ, the King of Kings did not come to this earth to be served but to serve. (Mark 10:45) Our boys need to know that the very reason they were created was to look outward and serve the world around them not look inward thinking the world is all about them.

Application: Ways you can teach your boys to give

  1. Create a giving jar that sits where they can see it. Look for ways as a family to raise money to put in the giving jar.

  2. If your children are old enough, volunteer at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

  3. Pray as a family that the Lord will bring someone in your lives that you can bless.